Abu Dhabi doctors save life of Scottish-Mexican boy with rare disease - GulfToday

Abu Dhabi doctors save life of Scottish-Mexican boy with rare disease

Martina and Leonardo in a follow-up consultation.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

An 11-year-old Scottish-Mexican five-year-old Abu Dhabi resident who nearly died due to a rare disease is undergoing post-medical check-ups. Burjeel Medical City records identified the patient as Leonardo Osorio McGeehan who had suffered a cardiac arrest while swimming in a pool in the capital with his mother Martina and sister. "We were tossing a ball in a pool when my son said he was not feeling well and started going under the water.

With the help of my daughter and a couple at the pool, we got him out of the water. He was struggling to breathe, and his eyes were rolling back. It seemed like he was having a seizure,” recalled Martina. It was discovered that Leonardo is among the sufferers of the Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPWS), which, according to hospital Paediatrics Cardilogy consultant Dr. Christopher Duke, is a "fairly rare disorder that affects between one and three in 1,000 people worldwide.”

The specialist led the multidisciplinary medical team for the emergency procedure. They were Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Heart Failure consultant Dr. Jayakeerthi Yoanarasimha Rao, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit consultant Dr. Kesava Ananth Ramakrishnan, Thoracic Surgery consultant Dr. Taj Mohammed Fiyaz Chowdhry, and Cardiac Surgery consultant Dr. Imthiaz Ahamed Manoly. Leonardo was Duke’s second WPWS cardiac arrest patient in the over two decades of his career.

"Children usually present with palpitations and it is very rare for such patients to suffer a cardiac arrest,” he said. Asked on the possibility that Burjeel Holdings get into research on rare diseases so that these would be better understood and which also may result in more advanced medical support and logistics for much better and improved patient care, Duke said: "Wide research has already been done worldwide on the WPWS. There is enough data.

 Leonardo and Martina with Dr. Kesava Ananth Ramakrishnan.

It is widely understood that radiofrequency ablation (a non-surgical invasive procedure that lessens or stops pain flow by the use of heat) and cryoablation (refers to all methods of destroying tissue by freezing) can be performed to remove the extra conducting pathway which cures (it).” According to Duke, it is still to be explored for the existence of that "one extra piece of muscle inside the heart of the WPWS patients,” when enquired about it. He explained: "We have atriums at the top and ventricles at the bottom of the heart.

Between the atriums and ventricles, the electricity cannot pass. There is complete insulation between the top and the bottom, except for one point in the centre of the heart. "The heart’s normal electrical conducting system passes through this point, like a wire carrying electricity from the top of the heart to the bottom.

Some people have a second connection, a muscular bridge, which allows electricity to pass from the top of the heart to the bottom, in a position outside of the normal conducting system. It is this second road that creates the problem. We do not know why this happens,” Duke continued. He clarified that contrary to belief, WPWS is "not a hereditary problem. That is a common misconception.”

On the near-death experience of her son, Martina said: "My son is a strong swimmer and was perfectly healthy till this incident. So, when he started going down into the water, I knew it was not a typical drowning. My basic knowledge of (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) came in handy. I never thought I would use (it) on my son.” The McGeehans were grateful to their neighbours, the Abu Dhabi Police and the parademics who aided them and took them to the hospital. 



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