How his little sister and timely emergency care saved his life
Around 4 a.m. on November 17, 2017, seven-year-old Brooke Ballinger woke up to a scream. She got out of bed to find her 10-year-old brother, Brayden, lying unresponsive on the bathroom floor.
Brooke woke her parents, who dialed 911 when they couldn’t detect a heartbeat on Brayden. Gasper Township Fire and Emergency Medical Services arrived within four minutes, performed CPR, and shocked Brayden once with defibrillators at the residence, then again on the ambulance ride to Kettering Health Network’s Emergency Center in Preble County.
Brayden arrived at the emergency center at 4:36 a.m., under the care of Medical Director Philip Lam, MD, Respiratory Therapist Susie Howard, and Tesha Smith, RN. After stabilization at the emergency center, Eaton Fire and Emergency Medical Services transported Brayden to Dayton Children’s Hospital.
The diagnosis was unexpected: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy affects about 1 in 500 people and is usually hereditary. The condition makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood and can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, (arrhythmia), cardiac arrest, and even sudden death.
Brayden had showed no symptoms of the condition before the incident. Each point in his care played a crucial role in saving his life: Brooke hearing her brother scream, the EMS team arriving so swiftly, and the local emergency center being nearby and ready to stabilize him.
Living life today
Brayden had surgery to insert an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which will sense any arrhythmias and introduce a shock to normalize his heart rhythm. Brayden is also on medication to lower his heart rate and will have ongoing appointments with a cardiologist and electrophysiologist.
Because of the genetic nature of cardiomyopathy, Brayden’s parents were checked for the condition, and his father, Brent, was diagnosed and received an ICD as well. It’s likely that Brayden’s diagnosis saved not only his own life but also his father’s.
Even though life with his heart condition will be an adjustment, Brayden is lucky and thankful to be alive. To express his gratitude for their care, Brayden brought a thank-you card and cookies to the nurses at the emergency center in Preble.
“God was with that boy every step of the way,” says Jeremy Meredith, nurse manager of the Kettering Health Network Emergency Center in Preble County.
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