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After 71 surgeries, she's now a nurse working in the operating room

"If you believe in yourself you can do it."

ST. LOUIS — Courtney Mangin lives by the motto "Just keep swimming". The phrase is from the movie Finding Nemo. it's only fitting that Mangin has the Disney character on her scrub cap she uses at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Her journey to be a nurse is one with many setbacks.

"There have been bumps in the road but we made it over the big bumps and the little bumps," Mangin said.

Courtney was born with several medical issues including Spina Bifida, a birth defect that causes problems with the spine and spinal cord.

"They (doctors) gave me about a one in a million chance of surviving and actually being able to work, walk and talk. They didn't think I would make it past one year's old," Mangin said.

Mangin is now 25-years-old. She's had 71 surgeries in her young life. Her experience in and out of hospitals her entire life influenced Mangin to become a nurse. This past summer she was offered a job at St. Louis Children's Hospital. It's the same hospital where Mangin underwent 50 of her 71 surgeries. She now works in some of the same operating rooms as a nurse where she was once a patient.

5OYS: "Was it crazy the first day you walked in here as a nurse not as a patient?"

Mangin: "It felt weird, but it was a good weird, like 'I'm not here as a patient.' It felt crazy. This is where I grew up and I get to give back to the hospital that's given back to me my entire life.

Mangin believes all the surgeries she went through helps her relate to the kids who come into the OR.

"When I tell them I know what they go through they get a big sigh of relief. It's like 'Someone finally understands what I go through,'" Mangin said.

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