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DENVER (KDVR) — As a competitive soccer player, 11-year-old Justice Avila would get tired and out of breath and sometimes feel dizzy after practice or games.

“I kind of wrote it off,” said her mother, Monica Avila.

But then a doctor at a routine physical heard what she thought was a heart murmur, and follow-up testing revealed a congenital heart defect that had gone undiagnosed all those years.

“Two holes in her heart,” the mother said. “Her heart was enlarged because it was constantly overworking.”

Justice’s heart could not be repaired through a catheterization, so Dr. Immanuel Turner performed open-heart surgery at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver.

“Her right heart was starting to get bigger, which is almost like her going into heart failure, and so closing that hole has helped her right heart go back down to a normal size,” Turner said.

Justice had surgery Dec. 1, and she was back on the soccer field six weeks later.

“I’m feeling much better playing. I’m able to run for much longer than I was able to. I don’t get as tired,” Justice said.

Her family says this is a good reminder to pay attention to your kid’s symptoms and to stay on top of physicals.

February 7 – 14 is National Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, and doctors say this is a good time to raise awareness.