HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - BY DEVON TSAI
A Hawaii teen has the heart of a champion.
After overcoming a near-death experience, Waikele teen Julie Kobayashi has been crowned the 2016 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion of Hawaii.
"It means a lot to me and I'm really honored to be Kapiolani's ambassador for the state of Hawaii. I hope to inspire and help others and be the living proof that you can overcome any obstacle," says Kobayashi.
Two years ago, Hawaii News Now caught up with Kobayashi when she was first diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition called myocarditis, in which the heart becomes weak and enlarged. With less than 10 percent of her heart pumping, doctors determined that she needed a heart transplant.
Since Hawaii doesn't offer the heart transplant procedure, Kobayashi was transported to Seattle Children's Hospital in Washington for the operation in Feb. 2014. It then took a grueling five months to recover.
Today, the 14-year old now enjoys a second chance at life with her fully functioning heart. She attends Kalani high school, plays the clarinet in the band, and even lion dances.
"Julie is an incredible young lady, and being the champion for Kapiolani for this year," says Martha Shade, CEO Kapiolani Medical Center Women's and Children's. "She'll be on the speaking circuit for us. She's very articulate; she has a great story to tell, as does her family. And we're very proud of her and we look forward to working with her throughout this year as our champion for Kapiolani and the children's miracle network."
As part of Julie's ambassadorship, she will be traveling to Washington D.C. and Orlando Florida to share her story.