Patient Testimonial: Jimmy Parrish, Congenital Heart Defect

Published on October 16, 2017

Like many parents to be, Brandon and Anna Parrish of Bowling Green, Ky., had dreamed about the day that their new bundle of joy would be joining their family and finding out if the baby was a boy or a girl. What they were not prepared for were all the surprises and challenges they would face with the birth of their child.

“The first surprise was that I gave birth a month early during the day that was supposed to be my baby shower,” said Anna. It was early May and Anna really did not feel the baby kicking like normal. “I just didn’t feel right so I went to the doctor.”

The doctor found that the baby was suffering with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) (a rapid heartbeat that develops when the normal electrical impulses of the heart are disrupted) with a heart rate over 300. Immediately, Anna was scheduled for a Cesarean Section. James Ranger “Jimmy” was born within 90 minutes of Anna arriving to the hospital. “Everything was so quick that Brandon didn’t even make it to the birth like we had planned,” said Anna.

Jimmy was in heart failure at birth. He was intubated and put on a helicopter to be transported to Norton Children’s Hospital where UofL Physicians – Pediatric Cardiology and Christopher Johnsrude, MD, MS, FAAP, FACC and UofL Physicians – Neonatology and Rodica Turcu, MD were waiting for him. Brandon raced to Louisville to be with his newborn son while Anna stayed at the hospital in Bowling Green to recover.

While in the hospital, Jimmy’s heart continued to race and he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a condition where there is an extra electrical pathway in the heart causing 'short-circuiting' of the normal rhythm. As a fragile newborn, Drs. Johnsrude and Turcu and their care teams focused initially on treating Jimmy with medications.

After spending two weeks at the hospital, Jimmy was sent home. “We were so excited to bring our little boy home,” said Anna. “However, Jimmy became fussy within eight hours of being home and it turns out he had gone back into SVT.” Again, the baby was flown to Louisville.

This back and forth occurred several times over the early summer. Jimmy would become stable on new medications while in the hospital and return home, only to go back into SVT soon thereafter again and again. Living up to his middle name of Ranger, named for his grandfather’s service in the Army, Jimmy was airlifted four times in a helicopter and once on a fixed wing plane. “It was a trying time for us, but we were determined to give Jimmy the best care possible and we always felt that Dr. Johnsrude and his team were also dedicated to Jimmy. We became so fond of Dr. Johnsrude and his genuine concern for our son that we began to call him Grandpa Johnsrude.” said Brandon.

3D Image of left sided AP ABL“It became clear in July that we were not going to be able to keep Jimmy out of SVT with only medications and we would need to perform an ablation,” said Johnsrude. An ablation, a procedure to scar or destroy tissue that's allowing incorrect electrical signals to the heart, is usually reserved for children who are at least four years old or weigh at least 35 pounds because of a slightly higher risk of the procedure due to the fragility of younger children and the smallness of the blood vessels and heart chambers within which to position the catheters. “The procedure could potentially be a real challenge but the ablation ended up going so well that it only took a little over half of the time that we had planned,” said Johnsrude. Jimmy did really well after the procedure, and was discharged home soon thereafter on no heart medications.

Now two months after the ablation, Jimmy has not had any more SVT and is a thriving infant who is gaining weight. “We are finally living out our dreams of having our baby home. We could not be more thankful for Dr. Johnsrude and Dr. Turcu and their teams’ care for our little one,” said Anna.


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