Ryan’s Story

“Holly, we cannot thank you enough for making this happen at St Margaret’s.

Ryan was diagnosed with Wolf-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome in late August as a result of the EKG testing that was offered through the Heartfelt screening done at St Margaret’s, which we are extremely grateful was offered to all athletes.

In basic terms, WPW is an extra conduction pathway between the atria and ventricles in the heart.  While the majority of individuals with this additional pathway remain symptom-free throughout their entire lives, there is a risk of sudden death associated with the syndrome.

Based on the initial EKG reading from your screening, we had months of discussions and evaluations with cardiologists, cardiac electro-physiologists and other experts, coupled with lots of EKG’s and a very heavy stress test – think of the Russian in the Rocky movie.

We decided to have Ryan undergo the ablation procedure to correct the defect.  It is important to understand the downside as well.  That being if a mistake is made one can end up on a pacemaker for life.  That alone scared the heck out of us.  Not to mention they are in your heart for hours evaluating cell tissue to find the proper place to do what is called an ablation (microwaving the affected area or freezing the area to kill the affected cells from further acting as a conductive node).  While the latter of these is necessary, it is just not a procedure one takes lightly, especially for a young boy.  Because of this procedure, they determined that while he has WPW it is not a concern because what extra pathway he does have is right on top of the normal pathway and apparently not a full pathway at all, so no chance of short-circuiting his heart.  He is a very small group that they see with this type of WPW.

While a bit of a challenging experience for Ryan, his mom, and yep even this old salty Retired Navy Captain, it was necessary, because for the rest of Ryan’s life he will show an abnormal EKG reading and he will need to know how to explain this and it will affect how they treat him for an operation or a medical emergency.  We would never have known this had the screening not been done at St Margaret’s and should he have needed an operation or have had a medical emergency before he had an EKG under a controlled environment he may have been treated improperly in that situation.  For all this, we are ever thankful to each one of you.

I cannot stress enough what we learned from this experience and how strongly we feel that every responsible parent and spouse should have their children and loved ones screened as was done by so many St. Margaret’s families under the Heartfelt Project this past August. 

We strongly encourage St Margaret’s to continue this screening for all athletes, and for the whole St. Margaret community.   You just never know whose life you may be saving.  Heck, it could be your own or your loved ones! “

              ~ Mark & Rita, Ryan’s Parents