'Mom, my heart is beating really fast'
By: Wolfson Children's Hospital
"It was a long journey, but I am grateful God led us to Wolfson Children's Hospital and Dr. Sunita Ferns," said Frankie Brooks, Sophia's mother.
"With heart health, it is so important for parents and children to talk and listen to each other the same way that Sophia and Frankie did," said Dr. Ferns, MD, a pediatric cardiac electrophysiologist and Director of Pediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiac Electrophysiology at Wolfson Children's Hospital.
The journey began when Sophia, then age 8, came to Frankie and said, "Mom, my heart is beating really fast."
The Brooks family took Sophia to a walk-in clinic where examination and testing revealed that Sophia was experiencing an uncomfortable sensation caused by a rapid heart rate.
Sophia was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and referred to a specialist in the Brooks' hometown of Savannah.
Sometimes Sophia's racing heart would slow down on its own during SVT episodes, but most often she would have to go to the ER for IV medications to reset her heart rhythm back to normal. Sophia's cardiologist eventually recommended surgery to correct her heart condition, but said waiting until 11 or 12 years old was best. And, without insurance, the procedure was costly.
For the next couple of years, Sophia lived with episodes of SVT that caused intermittent symptoms of racing heart, nausea and shortness of breath.
Once eligible for medical coverage – the same time frame of the recommended age for surgery – Frankie scheduled Sophia's procedure at a local hospital. One week prior to surgery, Frankie learned the hospital no longer accepted their health care plan. Consequently, Sophia's surgery was canceled.
"I knew God would heal Sophia's heart," said Frankie. "I started researching other providers and found Dr. Ferns and Wolfson Children's Hospital just two-and-a-half hours away from our home."
In addition to her board certifications in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology, Dr. Ferns is one of the few physicians in North America to be trained and board-certified in pediatric electrophysiology and adult congenital heart disease. At Sophia's first appointment, Dr. Ferns reviewed Sophia's history of having an intermittent rapid heart rate and discussed the effective treatments available for SVT.
For some children, the right combination of medications can keep SVT in check, but Sophia needed an ablation procedure to correct her heart arrhythmia.
Michael and Frankie took Sophia to Wolfson Children's Hospital for her heart ablation procedure.
After two months, Sophia went for her follow-up appointment and was deemed in perfect health. "It was a very effective procedure that has resulted in a dramatic change for Sophia," said Dr. Ferns. "She no longer has a heart condition."