Young Gymnast Competes Again After Heart Surgery

Teen gymnast, who overcame congenital heart disease, competes in state championships

Jordyn Ray, a 15-year-old gymnast from Port Deposit, Md., competed on Saturday, March 15 in the Level 8 Maryland state championships (MD USAG Women’s Gymnastics). The diminutive, 100-pound Perryville High School student with long brown hair and dark, expressive eyes is like many of the other Level 8 gymnasts from across Maryland vying for an opportunity to go to the regional championships in Pennsylvania.

But there is one major difference. Two years ago, Jordyn was in a hospital in Baltimore. Doctors in the Children's Heart Program at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital discovered that Jordyn, then 13, had three congenital defects in her heart, including a hole in the wall between the top two chambers. In April, 2012, she underwent a six-hour, open-heart surgery to repair the abnormalities. Jordan recovered fully from the surgery and returned to gymnastics to compete at a very high level.

Jordyn has been involved in gymnastics since she was 5 years old. Her parents, Denise and Jimmy Ray, never realized that she had any kind of heart problem until early 2012 when she suddenly developed severe heart palpitations. She said it felt like her heart was beating out of her chest. Her pediatrician referred her to pediatric cardiologists at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital for evaluation. They confirmed that she had several congenital abnormalities that required surgery. Dr. Sunjay Kaushal, director of pediatric cardiac surgery, performed the complex procedure to fix Jordyn’s heart. “He saved her life,” says Denise Ray, Jordyn’s mom.