Usually, the procedure would take three to four hours. However, Macy’s case was more complex and took nearly nine hours. Knilans and the team used cryothermal ablation to kill the tissue by “frostbite.” But they needed multiple access points (first in her leg and eventually through the neck vein) to shut down the pathway completely and finalize the procedure.
“I know the last thing any patient or family wants to do is go through the process again,” said Knilans. “So, I will persist until we are successful or to a point where, in my judgment, continuing with the procedure poses an increased risk to the patient.”
And Knilans’ judgment and experience serve him well. He began doing cardiac mapping and ablations over 30 years ago.
“Technology has advanced so much to improve the precision of the procedure, and decades of experience has taught us different approaches that we can use for the more difficult and complex cases – as we did in Macy’s case,” said Knilans.
Macy Returns to the Field Following Successful Procedure
Other than some migraine-like symptoms days and weeks after the procedure, Macy recovered comfortably but sat on the sidelines for two months.
When given the go-ahead from doctors, Macy slowly resumed her regular workout routine in preparation for her return to the softball field.
“It was like starting from the beginning again,” said Macy.
She lifted weights, did squats and practiced her hitting and running. She wanted to get back to the field and her teammates. But first, Macy had to admit the experience had a traumatic effect on her.
She was not traumatized by the fear of having another episode of rapid heart rate. The Cincinnati Children’s team explained what signs to watch out for and what triggers to avoid. Instead, Macy had to overcome the trauma of being far away from most of her family when it occurred.
“When I was playing out of town and not close to my family, I didn’t know if I was safe,” said Macy. “But when I’m playing closer to home, it’s different. I feel like I’m more able to do stuff.”
And for Molly and Gavin, they feel better knowing the experts at Cincinnati Children’s aren’t far away either. Cincinnati Children’s and Kentucky Children’s Hospital have since collaborated with Owensboro Health to make advanced heart care more accessible as part of the Joint Heart Program. This collaboration allows Macy, and other heart patients like her, to see Keller and the Cincinnati Children’s team in her own town. Three cardiologists from the Joint Heart Program are now seeing patients once a week at the Owensboro Health Pleasant Valley Medical Office Building, saving local patients countless hours of travel time.
Cincinnati Children’s offers outpatient heart care in more than 25 locations throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. They also created the Joint Heart Program in conjunction with Kentucky Children’s Hospital in 2017 to provide world-class access to heart care, even closer to home.
(Published December 2021)