A California Mother Follows Her Heart to Miami Children’s
Little Zoe was looking forward to starting kindergarten in September 2008 when her doctor shared some troubling news. The transplanted heart valve that had kept the lively Newport Beach, California 5-year-old swimming, dancing and playing for the past year was failing. Another open-heart surgery, the fourth of Zoe’s young life, would be needed – and soon.
“We were in shock. The valve that was put in the year before was supposed to last three to seven years,” recalls Debbi, Zoe’s mother. “Yet here we were facing another major surgery just as school was starting.”
Wanting the best for her daughter, Debbi and her husband Brian did some research and discovered that Dr. Evan Zahn, Chief of Cardiology at the Congenital Heart Institute at Miami Children’s Hospital, was participating in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study to evaluate the use of a first-of-its-kind, minimally invasive heart valve replacement system. This valve, the Medtronic Melody™ Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve, is delivered to the heart via a tiny catheter tube, where it is deployed, thereby avoiding the need for open-heart surgery. Seeing this as a better alternative to surgically replacing Zoe’s valve, Debbi and Brian contacted Dr. Zahn about having Zoe included in the FDA trial.
Because Zoe was too small to meet FDA guidelines for the procedure, Dr. Zahn applied to the agency for “compassionate use” of the Melody device to spare Zoe another surgery. Meanwhile, Debbi worried. “Each hour seemed like 10,” she recalls as she watched Zoe become weaker.
Wanting to be near Miami Children’s Hospital the moment FDA approval was granted, Debbi and Zoe flew across the country. On October 1, Zoe’s birthday, Debbi knew something was very wrong. She gathered her listless daughter and drove to Miami Children’s.
Zoe’s deteriorating condition put her in a different category. Dr. Zahn gained approval for emergency use of the Melody device, leading to a happy outcome. Within days, the sparkling-eyed girl was back home in California with only a band-aid to cover the site where the catheter was inserted. She loves school and keeps up a lively sports schedule that includes skiing, swimming, softball and ballet.
“Dr. Zahn is an amazing doctor. He treated Zoe as if she were his very own child,” said Debbi. “Our entire experience at Miami Children’s was wonderful. The doctors and caregivers there were extremely knowledgeable and attentive. We are very grateful to have had such a positive outcome.”
For Pediatric Cardiology & Cardiovascular Surgery Information or if you wish to make an appointment, please call 305-662-8301.