Dillon participates in Junior Guards, Advanced Hip Hop, competitive tennis and snowboarding. Her fit body kept a hidden secret. When she was born, Dillon had an extra electrical circuit in her heart which is a condition called WPW or Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome. She experienced no symptoms such as an irregular or racing heartbeat that would have prompted us to see a doctor. Dillon had annual physicals for her immunization shots but it wasn’t until we took advantage of the high school Booster fundraiser physical that any heart testing was offered. The Heartfelt Cardiac Projects was offering heart screenings for a charitable donation and we took advantage of the opportunity to check off that box with their EKG and Echocardiogram tests. Was I surprised when the results came back indicating that Dillon’s results were out of the normal range with a Delta Wave on the EKG. I gasped when I google’d Delta Wave on an EKG, then began the process of figuring out what we needed to do.
First, I called the pediatrician who told us to stop all strenuous activities immediately and referred us to a cardiologist. It took a couple weeks to get an appointment which was hard to understand if this condition was serious enough to warrant no activity. Doubts surfaced while I waited. I started to wonder if this was a false positive, after all, my daughter was extremely active and competitive and she had never once complained about anything but coming in second.
Finally, the appointment day arrived to see the cardiologist. She confirmed the Heartfelt results with another EKG and Echocardiogram. She was amazed at how we discovered the condition – Dillon was the first person to come into her office not having experienced any symptoms. I felt fortunate to not have gone through the symptoms as emergency room visits are something I like to avoid. The seriousness of WPW was explained to us with a rallying cry that all children should be screened. We also were referred to an Electrophysiologist, which is a Doctor whose primary focus is on the hearts’ electrical system.
The Electrophysiologist office was packed. Again they confirmed the EKG and inquired about the Heartfelt Cardiac Project. We learned that WPW is something you are born with, that 1 in 1000 people have WPW and that the procedure to correct it is called an Ablation. This highly successful surgery has low risks and was recommended for Dillon. The doctor indicated ASAP on Dillon’s chart but it was 5 weeks later for the first operating room opening that an Ablation can be performed in was available.
It was difficult to wait for the operating room now that this condition was termed serious and school was out. I felt uncertain about just what activity was permissible for Dillon to take part in. At home, we were acting nonchalant about the situation to keep her happy and her anxiety at bay. I shared my fears with family and friends for reassurance. It was amazing how many people we discovered had either WPW or an Ablation. I started to feel more confident about getting through this procedure.
The surgery was a success! The hospital was efficient, professional and caring. The Electrophysiologist was able to get in, ID and zap the circuit on the first try. The condition was gone from the EKG. After waking up from anesthesia, Dillon had to lie flat in the hospital for 6 hours and stay overnight for observation. There was a 2 week recovery period at home with one final check up with the Electrophysiologist before all normal activities could be resumed. Dillon had one week to prepare for high school tennis tryouts. One month to the date of the Ablation Dillon made the Varsity tennis team at her high school.
Our family is indebted to the Heartfelt Cardiac Project. They saved my daughter from pain and distress by identifying a hidden problem. They saved my family heartache and me from being someone who said “if only I had known.”