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Thomasville teen beats the odds, earns high school diploma

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. — His family calls him the miracle baby, because, from day one, the odds were stacked against 18-year-old Luke Leocata.

Luke was born with a heart defect called transposition of the great arteries, but the Thomasville teen never let any of his medical hardships slow him down.

"The struggles I have gone through have made me stronger," said Luke Leocata.

Those struggles include open heart surgery at three days old, losing his father as a young child and going into cardiac arrest at the age of 14.

Despite those setbacks, Luke will graduate, on time, from Ledford High School.

"I don't even know how to describe the feeling to be able to push through everything that happened and get to graduate with all of my friends," said Luke Leocata.

Luke spent four years bouncing between multiple surgeries and recovery, while trying to keep up with his school work.

"When you would miss just two days of school and then go back in you are so far behind, and I was sitting there missing like three weeks at a time," said Luke Leocata.

He completed a lot of credit recovery and attended summer school in order to earn his diploma with the rest of his class.

"It was very important for me to be in school all the time, as much as possible," said Luke Leocata.

Luke will walk the stage Saturday morning.

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