The day his daughter Maddie was born was supposed to be the happiest day of J.W. Hodge and his former wife Kim’s lives, but their joy quickly turned to fear when they noticed the concerned looks on their physician's face. Maddie was given adenosine, a medication that stops the heart and re-starts it to help correct an irregular rhythm. She was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White, a syndrome in which an extra electrical pathway in the heart causes a rapid heartbeat. She was born with supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormally fast heart rate and spent three days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was given three different beta blockers throughout her life to stabilize her heart rate.
Today, despite her heart condition, Maddie is an energetic and active eight-year-old. Some research shows that if the incorrect electrical pathway can’t be eliminated by age 10, Wolff-Parkinson-White patients need to start limiting their physical activity to avoid straining their heart. J.W. feels this would be devastating for Maddie who excels at her activities which include jiu-jitsu, skiing, riding horse-back, playing soccer, and competitive swimming. In June 2018, Maddie and her family traveled to Las Vegas for the first attempt at a cardiac ablation, a procedure to burn or freeze the tissue in the heart that's allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm. Unfortunately, the procedure was not successful. Maddie is scheduled to meet with another specialist in February to determine next steps in her treatment plan. Thanks to fearless women like Myra Adele Logan, M.D., who in 1943 was the first woman to operate on a human heart, there are treatments available like the ablation which may help heal Maddie’s heart.
J.W. sees Maddie’s diagnosis as an opportunity to be active and eat healthy. Instead of being protective of Maddie, J.W. views her condition as an opportunity to stay active and help her grow a healthy heart that can withstand any procedure she needs. Maddie visits her cardiologist every six months. J.W. makes sure Maddie has a voice in her medical decisions and that she gets to ask her cardiologist questions. He feels this is important because women are often misdiagnosed or feel intimidated by medical professionals and don’t ask questions. J.W. wants to ensure Maddie can make her own informed decisions and has a good understanding of her condition as she grows up.
J.W.’s advice to other parents of children with heart conditions is to make sure you use your voice. He feels patients and children often take for granted, their ability to ask questions and do research. He says, “It’s your health care not your doctor’s health care.” In addition to speaking up, J.W. says patients also need to take responsibility for their health by following their doctor’s advice and making necessary lifestyle changes. Empowering our youngest patients to play an active role in their healthcare discussions and choices will contribute to a healthier and more engaged generation.
1943 - Myra Adele Logan, MD becomes the first woman to operate on a human heart.