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15-Minute-Old Premature Newborn Is Smallest Pacemaker Recipient

Fri, February 17, 2012 12:53pm EDT by HL Intern Add first Comment

Baby Jaya is the smallest newborn in medical history to receive a pacemaker after being born at 31 weeks with heart disease.

History-making Jaya Maharaj was born prematurely at the Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital after doctors forced labor because they feared she wouldn’t survive if they waited any longer. Doctors put a pacemaker in her heart only 15 minutes after she was born, according to CBS news!

While in the womb, she was diagnosed with Congenital Heart block, which means the mother’s immune system mistakenly attacks the nerve fibers that cause the baby’s heart to beat. It was because of this that Jaya was born with a heart rate of 45 beats per minute, while the average newborn is born with a heart rate of 120 to 150 beats per minute.

Parents, Leanne Maharaj, 26, and Kamneel Maharaj, 31, were told by Dr. Valerie Chock, who counseled the couple, that they would have to force labor. They also had to wait until the baby was big enough to survive outside of the womb and the surgery.

“Unfortunately, a lot of babies in this position don’t even survive childbirth,” Chock said.

A team of about 20, including Dr. Katsuhide Maeda, the surgeon who stitched the pacemaker’s electrical leads to Jaya’s small fragile heart, participated in the 1 hour procedure. Born at 3.5 pounds and with a dangerously slow beating heart, Maeda decided to operate immediately instead of connecting wires attached to a pacemaker outside Jaya’s body and eventually performing a second surgery weeks later.

Kaya in now less than three months old, weighs more than 8 pounds and is doing well thanks to the successful procedure. According to doctors, her pacemaker will last 10 years, but she will otherwise be able to live a normal life.

“Whenever we were worried, she would kick from inside and say, ‘I’m here; I’m alive!’” said Jaya’s father, Kamneel. “We thought maybe she was trying to tell us that everything was OK, so we were always hopeful.”

-Milly Contreras


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