Dad gets tattoo of daughter’s open-heart surgery ‘zipper’ scar

Everly Backe
Dad gets tattoo of daughter's surgery scar (Photo: Backe family/ CBS News)

CHICAGO, IL ( WWAY) — Four-year-old Everly Backe knows her heart is special. Everly had three open heart surgeries before her first birthday and her lingering scar recently inspired her dad to get one of his own. They call it a “zipper.”

Matt Backe got a replica tattooed right on his chest. He says, “Some years down the road, we’ll be at the beach or the pool or whatever, and if she’s feeling shy, or whatever the case may be, we’ll be buddies and we’ll have it, you know, we’ll go through that together.”

The Backes have been going through it together since they first learned of Everly’s congenital heart defect when mom Lauren was 33 weeks pregnant. “I was very emotional those last few weeks, mostly just because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Lauren says.

Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect, affecting about 40,000 babies each year, according to the CDC. “For the vast majority of the congenital heart diseases, it’s not as serious as what Everly has,” says Dr. Joshua Wong of Advocate Children’s Hospital in Illinois. Dr. Wong is Everly’s cardiologist. “As she ages and grows, she will need at least two, maybe three more open heart surgeries to upsize that valve,” says Dr. Wong.

Everly does the same activities as other children but stops to rest when she needs a break. Lauren says her daughter “doesn’t have as much energy as your average four-year-old, but that’s her norm. But she’s happy. She doesn’t know any different.”

Everly has one question she likes do ask, “Do you know what hearts mean?” She says they mean “love.”

Everly’s mom also got a tattoo of an image of an E.K.G. with her children’s initials on her forearm. The Backes also teach their kids to embrace their differences and be accepting of other people’s too.


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