Christmas socks bring hope for AZ woman needing heart-lung transplant

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For most of us, Christmas socks are something fun and silly to wear during the holidays, but for one Scottsdale woman they represent hope.

At the Atherton's Scottsdale home, 14 adopted kids in all, you'll find a stack of Christmas socks.

Becca Atherton has collected the socks over the years. Each pair reminds the 22-year-old of a trying time in her life.

"This one was when I was in the sixth grade," Atherton said as she held up a pair. "I was 12 years old and I was having my fourth open heart surgery."

"This is when I was a freshman in college and I had to get the battery replaced in my pacemaker," Atherton said as she held up another pair.

Atherton was born with severe heart and lung defects. When she was 13 months old she suffered complications from her second open heart surgery.

Doctors put Atherton's chance of survival at just 13 percent.

A nurse put a pair of Christmas socks on Atherton's tiny feet.

"She told my parents it was to give me something to look forward to. It was something for me to fight for, for us to fight for, that I'd get to see Christmas, that I'd get to celebrate with them," Atherton explained.

Since then, she's undergone two more open heart surgeries, more than 20 heart catheterizations, and she survived an infection that nearly took her life.

Throughout it all, Christmas socks were a reminder that miracles do happen.

Soon she'll rely on them again. Atherton now faces a heart-lung transplant in Pittsburg.

She already has her Christmas socks picked out.

"My sister Reagan gave me a pair of snowman socks because I like snowmen," said Atherton.

Though insurance will cover most of the heart-lung transplant, Atherton will have to move to Pittsburg.

The move, transportation, and related medical expenses will cost about $80,000.

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You can also follow Atherton's journey on her blog and on her Facebook page.