MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WWBT) - On any given day, you’ll find 12-year old Hailey Hyatt taking part in dance or hitting the silks. She’s an aerial artist, an acrobat of sorts, an activity she grew to love during the past year and a half.
No question Hailey likes to stay active, but on November 22- a scare.
Hailey had been running around at a friend’s birthday party when she felt her heart start to race. It continued to do so when she arrived home, so her mother, Shannon, had her drink high volumes of water to see if that would help. Shannon had some cardiac issues in her past and learned that water could slow a heart rate. Still, issues persisted.
“When I was about to go to bed, my mom decided that we really needed to go to the ER and figure out what was happening, and the next thing I knew I was strapped to a bunch of machines,” Hailey recalled.
“I was terrified,” Shannon said. “We rushed into the ER, there were four nurses in there staring IVs, putting EKG leads on her, putting defib pads on her.”
Hailey had experienced supraventricular tachycardia, a faster than normal heart rate, so the goal became to find out what was causing it.
“They tried all kinds of extraordinary things, from having her blow into a syringe, they had her stand on her head for a minute. These are different Valsalva maneuvers that SVT and nothing worked,” remembered Shannon, who said hospital safe stopped just short of shocking Hailey after three doses of adenosine successfully converted her heartrate.
“It was terrifying,” said Hailey. “I had no idea what was happening.”
Enter Dr. Elizabeth Sherwin, a pediatric cardiologist who performs procedures at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. Sherwin does work in Richmond and puts Hailey through a series of tests. Her final EKG revealed Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition in which an extra electric pathway exists in the heart and is present from birth.
“Whenever I meet a family, whatever the heart condition is, my goal is to really give them information, draw pictures and help them understand what the condition is,” Dr. Sherwin explained.
The doctor scheduled Hailey for catheter ablation to correct the issue, a procedure in which tubes are run into the heart through blood vessels to close the extra pathway. Hailey’s tubes were inserted through her femoral veins in a procedure that took about four hours, a method that involved crossing heart chambers. The young aerial athlete was nervous, but her mother had done plenty of research and had many conversations with Dr. Sherwin, easing some of her fears.
“She asked Dr. Sherwin about a million questions,” Hailey smiled. “I felt really comfortable with Dr. Sherwin and I felt really confident that my mom had chosen right.”
“Between the numbers on the scorecards and Dr. Sherwin’s amazing support and tolerance for my hour-long crying interview, it was definitely the right choice,” said Shannon.
“She asked me a number of questions that I haven’t had before,” Dr. Sherwin recalled. “The usual ‘how many have you done, what’s your success rate?’, those sorts of things, but also ‘do you sleep well at night?,’ is there anything else that’s going to make me less able to do a good job on the day of the procedure.”
Hailey’s procedure was on December 30, when her parents’ choice was proven right and then some, as they have cared for every step of the way.
“She made sure that we went all the way to the procedure room and we sat there with Hailey until she fell asleep,” Shannon said. “Dr. Sherwin was holding her hand and that made me feel a lot better.”
“We were able to eliminate her WCW pathway very easily and, so far, permanently,” said Dr. Sherwin.
Hailey had to lay flat for several hours following the procedure to allow the catheter entry points on her legs to begin healing and had to rest for the following five days. If all follow-ups check out, she can be confident that the condition is gone for good. In the meantime, she’s back in the air.
“I feel amazing and I feel like I can do my activities better now because I had the procedure,” explained Hailey. “I feel a lot more confident when I’m up in the air or dancing, so I feel really great.”
“I don’t think we realized what a privilege it was before to just be able to be active and enjoy performing like that without having to worry about going into a serious arrhythmia, so it’s really wonderful,” Shannon observed.
Shannon urges parents whose children need the care of any kind to seek a pediatric specialist.
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