Thirteen-years-old Mohammed Abu Jazer from Gaza got a new lease on life last month thanks the voluntary work of Israeli-based humanitarian organization Save a Child's Heart.
Mohammed, one of seven siblings, goes to the 7th grade, but finds it hard to keep pace with his peers due to his health condition. He is a fan of Real Madrid and would have loved to play soccer himself, but he ties easily. Meanwhile he plays computer games and dreams of going to university like his older siblings.
Last month he took a major step on the way to fulfil his dreams when he underwent a successful pulmonary valve transcatheter implantation at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The procedure is expected to improve the functioning of his heart and allow him to turn a new leaf in his life.
The valve, which is implanted through a catheter, incorporates a novel technology which provides a medical breakthrough and alternative for open-heart surgery for children who were born with congenital heart disease. This condition interferes with the blood flow from the right ventricle of the heart to the pulmonary artery. This, in turn, causes the child to tire easily as the heart is expending additional effort to supply blood to the body's organs.
Mohammed, who had already underwent two open-heart surgeries in 2003 and several catheterization procedures, was transplated with the transcatheter implantation of Medtronic's "Melody" valve.
The valve in the Melody system is made from a cow's vein. It contains a valve which mimics the action of the natural valve, namely one-directional blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs and then to the rest of the body's organs.
Children with congenital heart disease in the interface between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery usually have no choice but to undergo an open heart surgery at an early stage of their life whereby a "conduit" with a valve is being implanted to enable adequate blood flow from the heart to the lungs.
The life cycle of these "conduits" is limited. They become narrower with time and the valve stops functioning at some point. As a result, patients with this disease are required to undergo several open-heart surgeries in the course of their life.
The "Melody" valve system provides a non-surgical tool for restoring the functioning of the implanted conduit. In so doing, it delays the need for surgery and may even reduce the number of open-heart surgeries the patient will have to undergo throughout life.
Medtronic's "Melody" conduit system was granted the European CE mark clearance and was licensed by Health Canada, the Canadian health ministry. It is indicated for treatment of malfunctions in the blood vessels that carry blood from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery that involve blocking of the pulmonary valve and/or complete opening without a functioning valve.
"Medtronic has been collaborating with 'Save a Child's Heart' from its inception. We attach the highest importance to providing the forefront of technology with our Melody valve to save children's life," said Judith Gal, the CEO of Medtronic Israel.
The valve was implanted by a team of specialists led by Dr. Akiva Tamir, MD, head of the pediatric cardiologic department at the Wolfson Medical Center, with Dr. Assa Sagi and Dr. Alona Raucher. They were helped by a senior German surgeon who arrived in Israel especially for this purpose.
Mohammed's father, Mr. Abu Jazer, extended his deep gratitude and congratulations to the medical team and the "Save a Child's Heart" Association for giving his son the optimal and most innovative therapy that will help his son benefit from a better quality of life despite his condition.