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CHOC HEART INSTITUTE OFFERS NEW ALTERNATIVE FOR PATIENTS WITH A HOLE IN THE HEART
August 31, 2000

A six year old girl from Whittier is the first patient in Orange County to undergo a new cutting-edge procedure at Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) to treat a common heart defect. Alyssa Avila suffers from an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart. The defect affects the flow of blood, causing the heart to work harder. The traditional remedy has been open-heart surgery. However, CHOC pediatric cardiologist Farhouch Berdjis and his team performed a new, non-surgical procedure yesterday, successfully closing the hole in Alyssa's heart.

The new procedure, using the Amplatzer device, involves implanting a "plug" made of alloy wire mesh in the hole through a small tube inserted in the patient's groin.

"There are many benefits to this procedure when you compare it to open-heart surgery," said Farhouch Berdjis, director of cardiology at CHOC and an approved investigator in the national Federal Drug Administration trial. "This procedure is far less invasive, does not leave a scar and takes only a few hours to perform. Patients can get back to normal much more quickly."

Atrial septal defects occur once in every 2,000 children (about 20 kids in Orange County each year). The abnormality involves a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart that affects the flow of blood, causing the heart to work harder. Symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty in breathing, failure to grow normally or chronic respiratory infections. The holes can lead to heart failure and death.

For more information, please contact Amy Waddell, CHOC Public Relations at (714) 532-8680. Please refer to www.agamedical.com for complete information about the Amplatzer device and background information on ASD.

The CHOC Heart Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cardiac patients from prenatal to 17 years. Offering the latest in monitoring, telemetry and life-support systems, the Institute performs more than 250 cardiac procedures annually and is the only facility in Orange County to perform pediatric open-heart surgery and therapeutic catherization procedures. For more information on The CHOC Heart Institute, please call (800) 329-2900 or visit our website at www.CHOC.org.

About CHOC Children's: Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2014-2015) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital, CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional health care network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence - The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence.  Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Pediatric Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.

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Media Contact:
Denise Almazan, Director of Public Relations
phone: (714) 509-8680
email: pr@chocchildrens.org

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