Procedure helping cure kids with heart arrhythmia

July 27, 2012 4:52:46 PM PDT
Heart arrhythmia can sideline any athlete, but now there is a futuristic way to actually cure it. The procedure is helping one young girl get back in the game.

Hailey Ayers just started gymnastics and she loves it. Just a year ago, Hailey couldn't do this. No gymnastics no team sports, even recess could land her in the hospital.

"My heart was beating really fast," she said.

"It would happen very frequently, I mean every two to three months where she would have those spells and her heart was hurting," said her mother, Kelli Ayers.

To save her life, doctors had to sideline her.

"The time we see the sudden death most frequently are when they're very active and in sports," Texas Children's Hospital cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Kim said.

But Hailey was cured of her arrhythmia by some futuristic-looking medicine. Dr. Kim used giant white magnets to guide a thin catheter with tiny magnets on the end of it into Hailey's small heart.

"With magnetic navigation, I can tell the computer I want you to go in 1 millimeter or I want you to deflect 1 degree and it can get me there," Dr. Kim said.

And that magnetic navigation is crucial because the problem area can be very, very small.

"Sometimes these fibers can be as small as a human hair so you need to be sure that you're in the right place," Dr. Kim said.

Once he's guided to the right place, he destroys it. That allows the heart to return to a normal rhythm.

Dr. Kim says the magnetic catheter allows him to pull, not push, it into a child's smaller, heart which makes it safer. Eighty children have had the procedure, and doctors say 75 are now cured of their heart problem.