Preeya Mody of Parkland had her first open heart surgery even before she received her first toy.
“She was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart disease,” Deepak Mody, Preeya’s father, said. “Her skin was blue in color. About one to two percent of the babies are born with that defect. She underwent balloon valvuloplasty at four weeks and open heart surgery a month later.”
The ordeal, however, wasn’t over. At age 12, Preeya had another open heart surgery. By then, she knew that her body was never going to be her strongest ally.
“She was in middle school then [and] because of the surgery, she had to be in the hospital homebound program that year,” Mody recalled. “My daughter still has a lot of medical issues; she has a weak immune system and has to take eight different medications daily. But that hasn’t stopped her from achieving her goals.”
Preeya lives with a debilitating disease but she isn’t spending time wondering why fate hasn’t been kinder. Her grades have remained consistently good and when she is not studying or volunteering at the Parkland library, she is reading books, playing chess or spending time with friends.
Now a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Preeya was recognized by Parkland City officials for being named the Mayor’s top teen. The mayor’s top teen program celebrates deserving teenagers in the city.
“This is our second year of doing this program,” Mayor Michael Udine said. “Preeya has really overcome all her obstacles. She is doing really well in school and has been active in Parkland for many years. She does a ton of extra curricular activities. She will attend various city events as a guest of the mayor.”
The recognition came as a total surprise for Preeya. “My brother nominated me, but I had no idea about it at all. I came to know that I had been selected only after I got an email from the city. It is a great honor and I am really happy.”
“She has achieved so much despite the circumstances surrounding her health,” Mayur Mody said, explaining why he nominated his sister. “There is so much of positive energy around her. She is highly intelligent and has a great sense of humor. In spite of all that she has gone through, she is always optimistic.”
“She is the reason why I decided to pursue medicine,” Mayur, who is a second year medical student at University of Florida, said. “I use her story motivation whenever I am faced with a tough situation. I also admire the passion that she has whenever she takes on a challenge.”
“Because of her disease, she never has enough oxygen,” Mody said about her daughter. “She gets tired very easily. But she has learned to live with that. I am proud of the fact that she is doing well both socially and academically in spite of her medical condition.”
“She is a fighter,” Panna Mody, Preeya’s mother, said. “Preeya never complains. I don’t ever recall her asking ‘why me?’ I am surprised at how well she is doing. She is always positive; people would never know she has gone though so much. She totally deserves the honor.”
Preeya has her eyes set on becoming a doctor. “I want to give back to the community and help people who have medical issues similar to mine. I want to try and become an inspiration to other people who also have to face challenges.”