Avera Medical Minute: Mending A Broken Heart - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Mending A Broken Heart

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Cami Fitzgerald is all smiles now the hole in her heart is fixed. Cami Fitzgerald is all smiles now the hole in her heart is fixed.

Hopefully there aren't a lot of you out there with broken hearts on the day after Valentine's Day. For a young teacher in Dell Rapids, her heart was broken, literally, and she didn't know about it until she suffered a stroke.

As Cami Fitzgerald teaches her students how to multiply with 2's and 5's, she is feeling 100 times relieved.  The 3rd grade teacher at St. Mary's Elementary in Dell Rapids had heart surgery a week ago after suffering a stroke 4 months ago... Get this at the age of 23. Cami can hardly believe it herself.

The stroke happened on the St. Mary's football field, Friday night of October 5th. Cami is also the high school cheerleading coach.

Cami tells us about the experience. She says, "Our cheerleaders cheer on those cheerleading boxes and after the game I went to lift a box and I got half way across the field and started blacking out. I thought I lifted too fast or got dizzy. I completely lost my eye site and it wasn't coming back. Then I started losing feeling on the left side of my body. It got all numb and tingly. You have to know, I'm not a person that goes to the hospital, but at that point I knew there was a problem."

Two weeks later, Cardiologist's at the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota in Sioux Falls discovered the cause of the stroke was a congenital heart defect. In medical terms, an Atrial Septal Defect. In layman's terms, a flap that is supposed to close at birth... didn't... leaving a hole and allowing for a clot to pass through causing the stroke. Cami was told 25% of the population has this defect but never know about it until something serious happens.

Dr. Michael Bacharach used a brand new device just approved to fix Cami's heart. It's the first time this particular device has been used in South Dakota. He performed surgery in the cath lab so Cami didn't have to have her chest cracked open..meaning the down time is minimal. She went home the next day and back to work 4 days later and says she feels great. She's lucky she had no residual side effects of the stroke and doctors says she isn't restricted in any activity and should be able to live a normal, healthy and long life.

Dr. Bacharach says, "With this technique we have the ability to go through the large vein with a catheter, go up through the heart, go up to the area between the two chambers and seal it with this device."

Cami's glad her broken heart was mended sooner rather than later, now she can concentrate on other matters of the heart, like helping to shape young minds.

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