Student Athlete Safe To Play After Open Heart Surgery at Saint Luke's

Aug 22, 2013, 12:36 ET from Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute

Cardiologists at Saint Luke's Repair Life-Threatening Heart Defect; Doctors at Heart Health Centre in Grand Cayman Provide Essential Rehab and Follow-up to the Open Heart Surgery

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sixteen-year-old Romario Dixon is quiet, lean, and athletic. For more than half his life, he's had a single minded passion for soccer, or football as it's called in Grand Cayman where he lives. So when doctors detected an abnormality in his heart earlier this year, his hopes for a professional career in soccer were suddenly and unexpectedly threatened.

Today student athlete Romario is on track to pursue his dreams - with a clean bill of health - thanks to a routine "safe to play" athletic heart screening hosted by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth, & Culture, and staffed by clinicians from Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute's athletic heart program and The Heart Health Centre on the Island.

At the clinic on Feb. 23, Saint Luke's cardiologists identified an abnormality in Romario's echocardiogram. After further testing it was confirmed that his heart abnormality was an anomalous coronary artery, a rare congenital structural defect related to the location where the artery comes off the heart. An anomalous coronary artery can result in unexpected sudden death in individuals participating in strenuous activity or athletics.  

As any parent would, Romario's parents Robbie and Belinda had concerns. Completely asymptomatic, Romario's diagnosis blindsided his mom and dad. "The thought of your child needing open heart surgery, it's every parent's nightmare," said Robbie. "We wanted to explore our options. Once we understood that surgery was our son's best hope for a normal, healthy life, we knew that Saint Luke's was our preference."

In June, the Dixon family traveled to Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City for surgery to repair Romario's heart. Though 1,500 miles from Grand Cayman, the Dixons felt very much at home at Saint Luke's throughout the experience. "The care is exemplary, the environment at Saint Luke's is very caring, and Kansas City has great shopping and food," said Robbie. Now well on the road to recovery, Romario is participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program back at home. His follow up care is provided by Saint Luke's doctors at The Heart Health Centre in Grand Cayman, a convenient option for the Dixons who otherwise would have to travel to the states for continued monitoring.

Since 2010, Saint Luke's cardiologist Mikhail Kosiborod, M.D., medical director, Heart Health Centre, and other numerous Saint Luke's cardiologists have provided cardiovascular care at The Heart Health Centre on Grand Cayman. Saint Luke's is a provider for Cayman Islands National Insurance Co., which insures more than 13,000 Cayman residents. Cardiologists from Saint Luke's travel to Grand Cayman several times monthly to provide cardiovascular evaluation, diagnostic, and follow up care at the Centre. Patients in need of more specialized services, such as angioplasty, bypass surgery, or pacemaker/defibrillator implantation, are referred to Saint Luke's in Kansas City. This year, services at the Centre were expanded with the addition of cardiovascular screening clinics for island athletes.

About Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute
Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, a member of Saint Luke's Health System and a teaching affiliate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is one of the preeminent cardiovascular programs in the country. Its legacy of innovation began more than 25 years ago when it opened as the nation's first heart hospital. Since then, the Heart Institute has earned a world-wide reputation for excellence in the treatment of heart disease, including preventive cardiology, interventional cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, imaging, heart failure, transplant, women's heart disease, electrophysiology, outcomes research, and health economics. With more than 50 full-time board-certified cardiovascular specialists on staff, the Heart Institute offers one of the largest heart failure/heart transplant programs in the country, has the largest experience with transcatheter aortic valve replacement in the Midwest, and is a global teaching site for the newest approaches to opening challenging blocked arteries using minimally invasive techniques.

SOURCE Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute