First grader who pierced heart with pencil graduates high school

May 31, 2013 4:59:59 PM PDT
Many of you will remember the story of the Houston first grader who fell on her pencil, stabbing herself in the heart. Now, meet Destiny Lopez 12 years later. And see how she is still grateful to the teacher that helped save her life.

Lopez is now graduating from high school. It's been an amazing journey for her since that day that she tripped and fell on her pencil. It pierced her heart. But her teacher saved her life by leaving the pencil alone until surgeons could remove it.

"If she hadn't done that, Destiny wouldn't be here," said her mother, Victoria Hollis.

Alief teacher Terry Kirksey lay on the floor with Lopez to keep her calm until paramedics arrived.

"I wish I could see her. I wish she could go to my graduation," Lopez said.

"I'm very grateful. I owe her my life because Destiny is my life," Hollis said.

They've lost touch with Ms. Kirksey, but the Hastings High School honor student says she's considering a career as a teacher.

"If I see anyone running with a pencil or scissors or anything, I'd say, 'Hey don't do it because I have a scar right here,'" Lopez said.

Her surgery scar goes from her neck to her belly button.

"I used to not wear V-necks. I was so insecure about my scar but as I grew older I thought, hey I'm a survivor might as well rock it and show it off," Lopez said.

Her heart recovered, too.

"I'm healthy. I can play sports. I was on dance team for four years in high school. The only time I have pain is when the weather changes from hot to cold," Lopez said.

Lopez's story made her an international celebrity.

"Hey I met Oprah, that's cool," she said.

Recently, she watched a documentary on her by a German TV crew she hadn't seen since she was 6.

"I can't imagine that's how I looked," Destiny said. "Until this day I still use pens instead of pencils."

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13


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