Phillip Reiter is a baseball player. For the 11-year-old, no sound is sweeter than the crack of a baseball bat or the smack of a line drive landing in a well-worn mitt. But for his parents, Lori and Phil, the most precious sound was the voice of the doctors at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center telling them their son’s innovative procedure had been a success.
Phillip was born with tetralogy of Fallot—a combination of four defects that affect the formation of the heart and its major blood vessels. By the time he was 8, Phillip had already undergone two open heart surgeries. But the next year, Phillip started having more complications.
His parents noticed he was always out of breath, and twice he complained of chest pains. Tests showed Phillip’s pulmonary valve was failing, and doctors at the Sibley Heart Center told his parents he might be a candidate for the Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve procedure.
This innovative procedure can help patients with tetralogy of Fallot by replacing the pulmonary valve so blood moves easily from the heart to the lungs, without leaking back into the heart. The valve is placed using a catheter that is guided into the heart from a vein in the leg or neck.
In December of 2010, Phillip underwent the procedure—only the fifth pediatric patient at Children’s and in Georgia to do so—and was home from the hospital in time to celebrate Christmas with his family. Today the third-grader is back on the baseball field and ready to hear the roar of the crowd as he hits a home run.