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Kylie's story


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Most eighth-graders would prefer to be somewhere other than school on any given day, but for one youngster, on one particular day, being in school was life-saving. 

It was April 29, 2009, and Kylie was in science class viewing a film.  Her teacher watched her as she unusually slumped at her desk – then fell out of her chair, unconscious and without a pulse.  The school nurse, who was immediately called for help, grabbed the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and rushed to Kylie’s side. 

From that point, everything continued to happen very quickly.  The AED restored Kylie’s pulse and breathing, then Life Flight® airlifted her to Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital for specialized care.  She was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), where the medical team consulted her parents, Karen and Larry, on the next steps, which would include surgery.

After being sedated for three entire days, Kylie woke up without any knowledge of what happened or why she was there.  

“I remember everything when walking into the classroom, after that I don’t remember anything else,” explains Kylie. 

Kylie’s heart condition, Ebstein’s Anomaly, is a deformity of the right side of her heart that causes problems with blood circulation.  She was diagnosed with this condition at birth but grew up with no signs of problems.  As she grew older, however, her heart grew larger and exaggerated the deformity, ultimately leading to abnormal heart rhythm, and cardiac arrest.   

Kylie underwent a complex open-heart surgery to re-construct one of the heart’s chambers that had become enlarged because of an uneven valve – another issue that needed to be corrected.  In addition, doctors gave her an internal defibrillator to automatically shock her heart back into rhythm if it stops. 

The device records her rhythm and communicates to Geisinger why it has gone off.    

Everyone was somewhat anxious during the recovery process – at least until Kylie accidentally hit a nurse who she thought was her younger brother, Chris – a sure sign that she was back to her normal self. 

Through all of the challenges she has faced in a year’s time, the teen is doing amazingly well.  Her favorite hobby, horseback riding, has become once again a frequent activity for her. 

“I never seem to notice (the defibrillator),” she says.  “I remember I have it.  Half the time I totally forget and don’t remember having the problem that I have.”          

Director of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, Kamal K. Pourmoghadam, MD, took Kylie under his wing since her arrival to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. 

“She’s a wonderful young lady and has a fantastic spirit and obviously her parents are a great support.  She’s capable of a lot of things,” he smiles.   

Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger has funded cardiology equipment to aid patients such as Kylie during medical procedures.  The organization also has funded comfort items that would have benefited Kylie and her family, such as the televisions, DVD players and recliners that are in each inpatient room.

Meet Kylie: 2010 Miracle Kid

Kylie surprised everyone when she went into cardiac arrest in the middle of science class. Now she's surprising everyone with how well she is doing.