Great leaps have been made in the treatment of congenital heart disease, a genetic defect in the structure and valves of the heart present at birth.
"Used to be they didn't grow up. A lot of them anyway," says UAMS cardiologist Dr. Tom Collins.
Dr. Collins says there are now more adult survivors of this disease in the U.S. than there are children who have it; but growing up doesn't necessarily mean the patients are 100 percent recovered.
"They were told, 'you're fixed,' and it turns out that's not the case," Collins says.
Patients like Shelly Palmer had the defect when she was young, and had the problems pop-up again as she got older.
Dr. Collins says transitioning care of the defect into adulthood is the most important thing for patients, and it's vital that they continue to have their heart monitored.
"We have training in both pediatrics and adult medicine and we can go between the two for the best care possible," Collins says.
Shelly Palmer's son was also diagnosed with the heart defect, but she knows more than anyone the importance of monitoring the defect as he gets older.
"The care I received just motivated me to want to work in that unit," Palmer says.
And it doesn't hurt she's also now a nurse in the cardiac unit at Children's Hospital.
Dr. Collins says some congenital heart patients don't see a doctor for decades, and by then their condition is critical, which is why it's so important to monitor.