When 17-year-old Hannah Negray, was born she seemed perfectly healthy. But a few hours after her birth, her pediatrician detected a problem. “I remember thinking, ‘There’s no way!’” Hannah’s father, Tim, said. “I counted 10 fingers and 10 toes. I held her. I knew that she was perfect.”
Hannah’s heart, however, was not. An echocardiogram showed Hannah had a condition called pulmonary valve stenosis -- a severe narrowing of the valve on the right side of the heart that pumps blood to the lungs.
At seven months old, Hannah had open heart surgery to repair the valve at Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. Over time, the valve started to leak. When she was in the fifth grade, Hannah had another open heart surgery so surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Illinois could replace the valve with an artificial one.
For several years, Hannah thrived, but her heart troubles came back. “About a year ago, I noticed that I started getting tired really easily,” Hannah said. Children’s Hospital pediatric cardiologist Ty Hasselman, MD, found her artificial valve was leaking, and would require another replacement. This time, however, she would not need open heart surgery.
A brand-new treatment option called the Melody transcatheter pulmonary valve offers patients with pulmonary valve disease a minimally invasive option. Children’s Hospital of Illinois is one of only 90 facilities across the globe - and the only one in downstate Illinois - that offers this leading-edge procedure. “The difference with this procedure is that we don’t have to cut the chest bone open,” said Priti Patel, MD, a pediatric cardiologist. “The valve is sutured into a stent, which we thread through a catheter from a vein in the groin up to the heart. Then we put the valve in place.”
Hannah underwent the Melody procedure, remaining in the hospital just one night instead of the typical five- to seven-day stay after open heart surgery. In addition to being less invasive, the Melody valve has tremendous longevity. “After surgery, I wasn’t in any pain. I felt 100 times better, and I wanted to get up and do things right away,” Hannah said. Today, Hannah is stronger and healthier than ever -- thanks to the pediatric cardiology team at Children’s Hospital of Illinois.