ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — When people first meet six-year-old Fisher Nelson, it comes as a shock to learn he has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare genetic defect referred to as a broken heart.

Fisher has undergone three open heart surgeries at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston with the first coming when he was just four days old.

“He just knows that he was born with maybe half a heart,” said Brooke Nelson, Fisher’s mother. “Something special about it.”

Not being able to play contact sports is just one of the things Fisher is not able to do with his genetic defect.

“He’s full of life and full of energy,” said Eric Nelson, Fisher’s father. “Running around playing and he never meets a stranger, really a joy to be around.”

Fisher’s second open heart procedure came when he was five-months old and third was at four-years-old. Fisher and his parents spend a lot of time traveling from their home in Baldwin County and the hospital in Texas. In December 2022, Fisher’s feeding tube was removed.

Fisher refers to Houston, a city he visits every four months so doctors can care for his “special heart,” as his “second home.”

As for the future, Fisher’s parents are not sure what it holds, but they are grateful and hopeful he can reach adulthood and live a full life.

“The diagnosis, we really don’t know as far as what the future holds for him,” said Eric. “I am 45-year-old. So, if Fisher makes it 40 more years and outlives me and Brooke, that’s our goal.”

Fisher will return to Texas Children’s Hospital in April. His mother says he’s close to requiring another intervention, but overall, Fisher is doing great.

The couple will continue to push forward, focus on the joys of life day-by-day and help promote research that may one day lead to a cure.

“My mission with The American Heart Association is just to bring awareness, to give people hope and to raise funds, so that Fisher and others like him can have a better quality and quantity of life,” said Brooke.” I just want to take something negative that we’ve been through and just try to bring something positive out of it.”

Fisher is this year’s “Face of Heart” for The American Heart Association’s 2023 Baldwin Art for Heart Gala in Orange Beach set April 15. It’s being hosted by Coastal Restaurant on the beach and Fisher will be there with his family!