When a Virus Attacks an 8-Year-Old's Heart, Doctors Use a Ventricular Assist Device to Repair It

By: Cincinnati Children's

"Hi, my name is Samantha, I'm eight years old, and" "I'm a heart patient at Cincinnati Children's." "Samantha was perfectly healthy, eight-year-old girl." "And she came and one Saturday morning saying she wasn't feeling well and she" "had a fever of" "102, and so I took her in the doctor thinking it was routine" "flu or bag of some kind, and" "they sent us home saying, you know, it was a virus." "And so we went home but she progressively- she was worse the next day." "Her condition continued to get worse and they" "then told us that she needed to have" "open-heart surgery. So the diagnosis was myocarditis." "Myocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the heart" "and when the heart muscle gets inflamed and infected with this virus" "it's not able to pump. And so the main function of the left ventricle is to" "collect the blood with oxygen and pump it to the body so the organs and the" "brain all have" "enough oxygen. It can be like a storm in that it comes in very quickly" "and very quickly the heart can become sick. And when it become sick," "then it is unable to do its function." "The doctors came in and said that she was in" "heart failure and I couldn't' stand," "couldn't stand upright.

I just bent over because it was such a shock. She's a very" "healthy," "normal eight-year-old, so it's just" "kinda whacks you when you least expect it. It was the last thing that I expected to" "hear." "What ventricular assist device does is it takes over that function." "It allows that oxygenated blood to be pushed to the entire body so that all the" "different organs" "have enough oxygen. And it supports the body, actually, while that storm is there." "But eventually the storm will pass through and then the heart will recover" "and the heart will start doing its own function, and then we can come off the" "device." "To be a problem solver and fixer" "and coming to a hospital and handing that over to somebody else is" "a different ordeal and I'm not used it but" "I feel confident about it now." "Do you have any questions for mommy or daddy?" "You can ask anything." "How hard was this for you?" "It was hard, but it was worth it.".

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