Brothers undergo pioneering heart op at Leeds hospital

Kyle and Ethan Roper with their mum Zoe.
Kyle and Ethan Roper with their mum Zoe.
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This lively pair of brothers are usually full of energy – but medics fear a rare heart problem is causing them to pass out.

Now they have become medical pioneers as they are the first children in the country to benefit from groundbreaking new technology.

Ethan and Kyle Roper had new miniscule heart monitors inserted under their skin in a procedure at Leeds General Infirmary.

The hi-tech device, which is just the size of two matchsticks, tells doctors if a serious hereditary heart condition is causing them to faint.

On several occasions the pair, aged eight and seven, have collapsed but medics are not sure why.

Thanks to the tiny device, information about their heart will be wirelessly transmitted to the hospital.

Their mum Zoe McConville, from Doncaster, said their consultant had asked them to wait two weeks to have the procedure so the boys could have the new monitors.

“I am pleased and delighted.

“It’s very reassuring as well.”

Ms McConville, 34, and her son Ethan were both last year diagnosed with Long QT syndrome, a rare and potentially fatal inherited condition.

The syndrome causes the heart to beat an in abnormally fast, uncontrollable way, which means the heart cannot pump blood properly and the brain is temporarily starved of oxygen, so the patient can temporarily pass out. Heart rhythm usually returns to normal quickly and the person comes round, but if it persists, it can cause cardiac arrest and death.

For Ms McConville, also mum to 10-year-old Kelsea-Jane, the condition has been successfully controlled with medication.

However her sons have both collapsed suddenly over the last few months.

She said that in November, Kyle was walking down the stairs when he suddenly passed out and landed at the bottom.

He was seen at accident and emergency but an ECG test of his heart proved normal.

Then two weeks ago, Ethan also collapsed and ended up spending two nights at Leeds General Infirmary, where the regional children’s heart surgery experts are based.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Mike Blackburn decided that the boys should have a monitor inserted under the skin in their chest so that medics can see what was causing the collapses.

“If anything does happen, we can be alerted straight away,” Ms McConville said.

“It has been worrying because we don’t know if it is their hearts or not.”

Dr Blackburn said the new Medtronic Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor was the smallest implantable device of its kind available and had so far has only been used on a handful of adult patients. He carried out the short procedures on the youngsters yesterday – Valentine’s Day

“It will automatically transmit any unusual heart activity wirelessly to a secure system that can be accessed instantly by the heart team,” he said.

“This means we can continuously monitor the patient’s heart before during and after fainting to identify whether the problem is heart-related.”

Stephanie Hirst

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