A Philadelphia professional boxer is fighting a different battle outside of the ring. Heavyweight Steve Cunningham has been working to get his daughter Kennedy on the heart transplant list.
WorldBoxingNews.net reports that Kennedy has hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a rare congenital heart defect resulting in the left ventricle of the heart being underdeveloped. Her heart problems date back to when she was just 2 days old. She has had two open heart surgeries, a stroke, many blood infections, and more in her 9 years of life.
Traditionally, children with HLHS have a third open heart surgery to do a vital repair giving the kid an opportunity to live into adulthood. However, Kennedy has extra defects in her heart that make the surgery impossible.
A heart transplant was the only option.
When the family first applied for the transplant through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, they were denied, saying Kennedy was not a candidate for a transplant. The news came right before Steve’s USBA Heavyweight title win against Amir Mansour.
“I broke down like never before, I lost it,” says Steve. “I was in the middle of my training camp for a must win fight. People close to me told me I should pull out of the fight, that it was too much for me. But I knew that I had to fight for Kennedy, she has been through so many battles in her life and has never once given up and I was not going to let her see her father quit.”
Not wanting to give up on Kennedy, Steve and his wife Livvy sought a second opinion from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. On June 25, they received the good news that Kennedy had been accepted on the heart transplant list.
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“We will never give up on Kennedy and are so blessed and excited that The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has agreed to take her on and list her,” says Steve.