15-Minute-Old Baby Receives Pacemaker

A 15-minute-old infant received a pacemaker, making her one of the youngest people to ever receive the device.

Jaya Maharaj was born nine weeks early in an effort to save her life and perform the necessary surgery. She suffered from a heart ailment and a heartbeat rate nearly one-third what a healthy newborn's should be.

"The only way to save this baby was to deliver the baby right away and then the pacemaker," explained Dr. Katsuhide Maeda.

Jaya's parents, Leanne and Kamneel, were first told of their daughter's health problems during a routine prenatal visit. "We were worried, but at the same time we were hopeful that she was fighting inside and doing the best she can," Kamneel told the The Associated Press.

Doctors were afraid that Jaya was suffering from a neonatal condition known as heart block, in which the mother's immune system attacks the cardiac nerve fibers and cause decelerations in the fetal heart rate.

Surgery this delicate is normally not performed on one so small, but doctors knew it would be a race against the clock to install the pacemaker and get Jaya's heart up to speed. After an hour-long surgery, doctors announced that it was a success and that Jaya should not need a new pacemaker for 10 years.

Jayla is now three months old and is a happy, healthy baby girl.

"Whenever we were worried, she would kick from inside and say, 'I'm here; I'm alive!' We thought maybe she was trying to tell us that everything was OK, so we were always hopeful," said Kamneel.

In 2009, baby Oliver Rasmussen, also suffering from the same congenital heart block, received a pacemaker. He was given an external pacemaker as soon as he was born, then went on to receive the internal device.

According to doctors who handled his surgery, he is doing well now and, like Jayla, will not need a new pacemaker for another 10 or 11 years.

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