NEW ORLEANS – When one thinks of heart troubles and inserting stents, a 64-year-old-man comes to mind, not a five-year-old girl. But a stent inserted into her heart is exactly what possibly saved Haylie Carter from high blood pressure, stroke or an aneurysm.
Haylie’s mother, Sarah, knew her daughter needed to see a doctor after she complained about her racing heart and pain in her legs. Her pediatrician, Kenneth Cruse, detected a murmur and referred her to the care of pediatric cardiologist Ernest S. Siwik, director of Children’s Hospital’s cardiac catheterization program and associate professor of pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center.
An ultrasound revealed Haylie had severe narrowing of her aorta, the largest artery in the body, and she was scheduled for a non-surgical procedure to fix it. Using the artery in her upper leg as an entry point, Dr. Siwik inserted a large stent into the aorta to relieve the narrowing. Instead of heart surgery, a week-long recovery and a chest scar, Haylie spent the night in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and was able to go back home to Thibodaux the next day.
"The murmur just showed up one day,” Sarah Carter said. "Children’s provided a lot of information to us about her condition and what they were trying to accomplish. We felt good about it. And just as soon as it showed up, it was gone. Haylie’s personality came back right after. She hasn’t complained of having any pain, and she wanted to get up and be a little girl almost immediately. It’s like nothing ever happened.”
Dr. Siwik said the quick detection and referral by Dr. Cruse helped Haylie immensely. "Almost 90 percent of the cases we see at Children’s involve structural heart problems,” he said. "The earlier we can get them detected and fixed, the better for the child’s health as they grow into adulthood.”
Given Haylie isn’t yet full grown, Dr. Siwik said she will need a short follow-up procedure in the future to further enlarge the stent, to ensure blood flow remains unhindered.
On August 13, Haylie will begin kindergarten at W.S. Lafargue Elementary School.
"I feel good,” Haylie said. "I was scared at first, but I knew I’d be alright. I’m happy they fixed me; I can’t wait to go to school.”