October 24, 2020

Surgeons place pacemaker in 15-minute-old newborn 


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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The name Jaya in Hindi means victorious. And little Jaya Maharaj was just that, when she became one of the smallest recipients of a pacemaker when she was just 15 minutes old.

A team of doctors at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital determined the girl born nine weeks premature had only hours to live if they did not perform the surgery.

Jaya, who was diagnosed in the womb with a severe heart ailment, entered the world with a heart rate of 45 beats per minute. A health newborn heartbeat is 120 to 150 beats per minute.

“The only way to save this baby was to deliver the baby right away and then the pacemaker,” said Dr. Katsuhide Maeda, the surgeon whose steady hand stitched the pacemaker’s electrical leads to Jaya’s walnut-sized heart. Stanford announced details of the operation this week.

During a routine prenatal visit, doctors told Leanne Maharaj, 26, and Kamneel Maharaj, 31, that their first child’s heart rate was dangerously low. They learned that their daughter suffered from congenital heart block, in which the mother’s immune system mistakenly attacks the nerve fibers that cause the fetus’ heart to beat.

The prognosis was grim: Doctors would have to induce labour and force the baby to be born as early as possible to correct the ailment before her heart failed.

But Jaya grew and gained weight as her parents waited, giving them hope.

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