Today's Healthy Child at 6: Heart transplants for children

    4:53 PM, Sep 20, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- On Medical Monday, we highlight the latest breakthroughs in medicine, new innovations that could improve your health, and work to educate you about issues that impact your quality of life.

    According to the March of Dimes, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect among children. In the U.S. alone, more than 25,000 babies are born each year with a heart defect.

    That's one baby out of every 115 born. And sometimes, the best option is a transplant.

    Since 1990, cardiac surgeons at Arkansas Children's Hospital have performed transplants on more than 200 patients. In Tonight's Healthy Child, Dr. Bryan Burke introduces us to one of them.

    After nearly 4 months in the hospital, 5-year old Ryanne Self is going home for good. Her mother Sarah Self says, "Today has been amazing. She finally has no chords, no wires; nothing. She can run around free."

    And the staff at Arkansas Children's Hospital is celebrating with a party.

    For her parents, Scott and Sarah Self, it's a dream come true. Her father Scott says, "I didn't think we'd ever get here; spending that long on the front end, waiting you know it's kind of surreal."

    They've waited for a heart and cardiologist Dr. Brian Eble says, "For some reason a person's heart has become weak and sometimes the patient has heart surgery to correct, congenital heart disease."

    For Ryanne, it's a rare condition called restrictive cardio-myopathy where the heart pumps blood inefficiently, leading to the enlargement of the muscle.

    During a heart transplant, a mechanical pump circulates blood through the body while the surgeon removes the diseased heart and replaces it with a healthy one from a recently deceased donor.

    Scott says, "It's the ultimate gift that's been the toughest thing for me to wrap my head around. How do you want and wait for something; that's going to be so tragic for another family."

    Besides regular checkups and medications, Ryanne should grow up just like any other healthy, normal girl. Her upbeat personality Dr. Eble says, contributed to her fast recovery.

    Dr. Eble says, "She's a beautiful young girl, who, despite being here for months, demonstrated that over and over again."

    Ryanne now has a permanent reminder of the loving care she received at Arkansas Children's Hospital. Her parents say it's a mark of her strength and courage.

    The Selfs are from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, but were staying in Little Rock while Ryanne was being treated.


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