Libby tells us how her faith helped her cope with her frightening diagnosis and heart surgery


Hi, my name is Libby Koelpin and l am in Mrs. Goughs 3rd grade class. I was born here in Littleton, Colorado and have grown up in the same house for 9 years. My dad is a pastor at Living Savior Lutheran Church. My mom runs around doing all kinds of things for my family, I think. I have an older sister and an older brother. My sister, McCall, is 10 and in 5th grade in Mrs. Brautigam’s class. My brother, Thomas is 13, and in 8th grade at Falcon. We had a dog, named Lady, she was a Great Dane, but she died last year. She was one of my best friends. We still have a cat named Stella, but she’s not as cool as Lady was.

Three years ago, when l was in Kindergarten l was having a lot of pain in my heart. At first, my parents thought it was just growing pains or that I was doing too many cartwheels. (I love doing cartwheels!) After we went to my doctor, then we saw a lot more doctors and l had to have a lot of tests. Not like tests in school, but tests on my heart. I had to wear a lot of leads. Leads are wires that were attached to my skin on the outside with big stickers and they monitored what my heart was doing inside. I really didn’t like the leads a lot. They gave me bad rashes and I got them tangled up when I was sleeping or doing cartwheels. With my leads, my doctor gave me a phone that l would wear in a special belt that told the doctors what was happening to me all the time. When l was sleeping, eating, and doing gymnastics or playing at school. Over a couple days, my doctors discovered that I have heart block. It has a longer name, but I just call it heart block. This means that my heart would stop. I wouldn’t know when or why, but it would just hurt and block.

So, after lots and lots of doctors’ appointments, early in the morning on New Year’s Eve 2014 I had open heart surgery to put in a pacemaker. This is a little device that looks like an iPod with two leads that connect to my heart. The leads look like headphones. I joke with people and say, it looks like I swallowed an iPod. My pacemaker sets the pace for my heart and keeps it from blocking, and makes it beat regular.

After, my surgery I was still having the same pain. Everyone knew my heart was safe with the pacemaker, but I was still hurting. This confused everyone like my parents and my doctors. Then I had a new doctor in Michigan that found out that my pain didn’t have anything to do with my heart block. My mom and dad will tell you, this was one of God’s miracles. One of my doctors even said that. “God must have big plans for this little girl” because with heart block, doctors normally can’t detect heart block…it just happens. The pain I was having, that wasn’t my heart hurting, saved my life.

Today, it’s been 3 years and I am doing better. I can do everything any other kids can do. I ski, play basketball, volleyball and even race in the Kids Adventure Games every summer. It still hurts a little bit sometimes, but I know my heart is safe. I just need to be tough. Sometimes I talk back to the pain and tell it “no, not today.”

I always knew everything would be okay, even going into my surgery. I knew that if Jesus called me home to heaven, that would be okay. I know he’s with me, he loves me and he’s given me a family to take care of me. I am going to be okay no matter what.

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