Family Turns to Cleveland Clinic for Children's Heart Surgeries

David Dickenson, IV, from Cleveland, Ohio, is an active teenager. One day, he was routinely running on a treadmill and suddenly felt dizzy and lightheaded. He hit the emergency stop button on the treadmill, but the symptoms persisted; David collapsed and was in cardiac arrest.

As luck would have it, a physician was also working out at the gym when the incident occurred. A 9-1-1 call was placed, paramedics stabilized David using CPR and an AED (automated external defibrillator) machine, and David was transported to the nearest hospital.

“After two days of tests and trying figure out what was next for David and our family, we decided to get a second opinion with Cleveland Clinic Children’s,” says their father, David Dickenson, III.

“My wife, Heather, and I thought that it would be prudent to move David to Cleveland Clinic Children’s because we understood that he might need heart surgery. Number one in the world, 20 minutes from home, it just made a lot of sense for us.”

David was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia, and days later an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD was implanted into his chest. An ICD is an electronic device that constantly monitors the heart rhythm. When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle. This causes the heart to beat in a normal rhythm again.

David’s procedure was successful; however, months later, the Dickenson family was faced with a similar situation --- this time for their daughter, Nina.

“The doctors and nurses at Cleveland Clinic Children’s definitely held our hands and guided us through the entire process. It gave us peace of mind. We felt our children were in the best hands there.”

“Nina was tested immediately after David was diagnosed,” says their mother, Heather Dickenson. “And just by the sheer fact that her heart structure was the same, doctors suspected that Nina probably had the same disease as well.”

“Seeing how our son went through his surgery with flying colors, we were very comfortable with scheduling Nina’s surgery,” adds David.

David and Nina receive follow-up care through Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “Knowing that they’re communicating with our children’s defibrillators constantly through a monitoring device is comforting,” says David. “There’s diligence so that the transition from children’s to adult cardiology is seamless and we’ve actually got that already in process. That’s something that reduces your anxiety and makes you feel comfortable with the next 20, 40, 60 years of care that is ahead of them.”

“The doctors and nurses at Cleveland Clinic Children’s definitely held our hands and guided us through the entire process,” adds Heather. “It gave us peace of mind. We felt our children were in the best hands there.”

Related Institutes: Heart & Vascular Institute (Miller Family)
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