BELLEVILLE, Ill. ( -- A Belleville East High School basketball player star will soon be back on the court after having open heart surgery.

Kaylah Rainey is the 27-ranked high school point-guard in the nation, by ESPN and has been off the court for nearly a year.

Rainey signed her national letter of intent at Northwestern University and thought everything was good until she went in for a routine sports physical.

“I kind of wanted to give up. I’ve been through so much this year with injuries,” said Kaylah. 

She says she was ready to get back on the court in October after sitting on the sideline because of a knee injury and wrist surgery.

“I’ve only heard the word open heart surgery on TV,” Kaylah’s dad Terrell Rainey said. “It devastated me that my kid would have to experience that.”

Doctors at St. Louis Children’s Hospital says she needed open heart surgery to repair her anomalous left coronary artery, a heart defect she was born with.

Pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Chesney Castleberry, says they see a lot of athletes who come in with chest pains during exercises.

“If you look at everything that hurts athletes on the field, reasons for sudden death on the court for instance. This is the least common,” said Dr. Castleberry

Castelberry also added it shouldn't be taken for granted. She says what Kaylah had was essentially causing a heart attack when she exercised.

When Kaylah’s parents were told the news, their hearts sank.

“I couldn’t feel my legs. I just couldn’t feel my legs. My legs vanished and my heart was in my lap,” said Kaylah’s dad.

In November, Kaylah went six hours under the knife so doctors could fix her heart issue.

Minutes after surgery, doctors told Kaylah’s dad that she would be able to get back on the court in six weeks.

“I thought everything was over,” said Kaylah. “But I knew it was a bigger plan and next chapter. So I knew I had to be strong and come back harder than ever.”

Kaylah says she cannot wait to play with her team again and take control of the court.

“Getting back on the court would mean everything to me. I want to prove so much to everybody and play the game I love to play,” said Kaylah.

Doctors say next week Kaylah should be able to play a full game.

Since learning about Kaylah’s story, ESPN has been following Kaylah and her family to school and doctor’s appointments. Her story should air on ESPN and in a magazine in the coming months.

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

News 4 Reporter

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