BAKERSFIELD, CA - With heart disease the leading cause of death in Kern County, a new Survivor Gallery at Memorial Hospital is bringing awareness to the disease.
34-year-old Keyota Cole and her 16-month-old daughter Faith, are survivors of heart disease.
When Keyota first got pregnant, doctors told her there was a chance she or her baby wouldn't survive.
But, more than a year later, both are featured in the new Survivor Gallery.
Faith Zachary is your average toddler, but just six days after she was born she underwent open heart surgery, a risk her parents were warned about.
"The doctors told us there was a possibility that the mother could die or the baby could die or both could die, and that was something that I don't know if I was going to be able to handle that," said Brian Zachary, Faith's father.
Between Cole and her daughter Faith, they've had five open heart surgeries.
"They had to put a pacemaker in because my heart rate wasn't pumping like it was supposed to be," said Cole.
But now, after months of uncertainty the two are featured in the new Survivor Gallery at Memorial Hospital, celebrating those who have defeated the disease.
"She runs around the house all day long. She just amazes a lot of people that I have to actually show her the surgery, show her the line on her chest for people to understand, or in order for people to believe because she acts just like a normal child," continued Cole.
"They're both survivors, not only surviving but thriving," said Zachary. "They're happy, they're moving around, they are able to get the message out to other people."
Staff at Memorial say the Survivor Gallery is supposed to bring more awareness of the disease and hopefully prevent it.
"It is treatable. It is preventable and that there are resources out there available and that people do survive this," said Brandy Johnson, nurse at Memorial Hospital.