Thursday, December 25, 2008
Medical Reports: Healing hearts
Seventeen thousand babies are born with a hole in their heart every year. It's a life-threatening situation. But today, Seven's Diana Diaz shows us how doctors are now healing hearts without major surgery.
WSVN -- Fifteen-year-old Anja Fortier has always had that funny feeling.
Anja Fortier: "You know when you get nervous, and you get butterflies in your stomach? It kind of felt like that."
But the butterflies were actually in her heart. She was born with an atrial septal defect, a hole between her heart's two upper chambers. It puts her at high risk for serious heart problems.
W.L. Gore & Associates: "It gets tight. It feels tight in my chest sometimes."
Fixing a problem like Anja's used to mean open heart surgery, but doctors instead used a far less invasive procedure to close the hole with a prosthetic patch.
W.L. Gore & Associates: "We have a metal framework that sits around both sides of the defect to keep the tissue in place."
The procedure takes less than an hour. Guided by real-time imaging, doctors send a catheter up through her leg into the heart. A thin tube then guides the patch into place. Over time, heart tissue grows over it, sealing it in place permanently.
Dr. Robert Vincent, pediatric cardiologist, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: "It's really awesome to be able to come in on the day of the procedure, have it done and go home either that day or the next day without any surgery, without any incision and any stitches."
Ashley Akins had the same heart repair less than a year ago. She's now back on the squad and has plenty to cheer about.
Ashley Akins: "Before, you know, I'd just be really out of breath and stuff. I could tell a big difference after I had it done just in this year. With cheer leading it feels so much easier."
A teen who now has no heart problems and no limits.
Patients who undergo the heart repair procedure are usually able to go home the next day.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
(404) 250-KIDS (5437)