Doctors find heart defect while treating child's flesh eating bacteria

SEATTLE -- No parents wants to know the firsthand horror of having a child with flesh eating bacteria. But when a Marysville toddler almost lost her leg to an infection, doctors made another important discovery.

In June of 2013, Zoey Chalk was hospitalized for two weeks and needed eight surgeries to clear her body of flesh eating bacteria. She has fully recovered, but Thursday the Chalk family was back at Seattle Children's Hospital with a new medical scare.

"We learned today Zoey will have to have open heart surgery," her father Bryan Chalk said.

Now 3-years old, Zoey has a hole in her heart. It's making her heart work overtime, pumping so much blood that the right side is enlarged. Surgeons need to patch it.

"I have never had a more terrifying experience than knowing there's something wrong with your daughter and you can't do anything to fix it," Bryan said. "But here at Children's, they're incredible, and I'm happy she's here."

It's a feeling the Chalks know well. First the flesh eating bacteria and now this. While the conditions are unrelated, there is a connection. In the host of tests doctors ran while saving Zoey's life last year, they discovered her heart defect. It might have otherwise gone unnoticed. And untreated, it might have killed her.

"It totally saved her life, yeah," her parents marvelled.

Zoey will have surgery in a few weeks. Her parents said the community support has meant the world to them. You can follow Zoey's journey on her Facebook page.