One Terrific Toddler
To most people, Finnian Keane appears to be a happy healthy energetic toddler. To doctors and nurses at the Goryeb Children’s Center’s new Pediatric Subspecialty Suite at Overlook, Finnian is a familiar and beloved patient because he has spent much of his young life under their care.
Kathleen Kelley-Keane and her husband T.J. were elated when their first-born child arrived into the world on June 9, 2008; but when they took little Finnian for his routine two-week, well-baby check-up, they learned that all was not well.
“The pediatrician couldn’t count Finnian’s heartrate because it was beating so rapidly,” recalled Kathleen, “so we took him to the nearest emergency department.”
Finnian’s heart was racing at 296 beats per minute – a dangerous condition called supra ventricular tachycardia — and he was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Atlantic Health’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital. There, Donna Timchak, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist, diagnosed Finnian with Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW) – a rare congenital heart disorder affecting one to three people per 1,000 worldwide.
“People with WPW are born with an extra connection in the heart – called an accessory pathway – between the atrium and the ventricle,” commented Dr. Timchak, “resulting in abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) and faster than normal heartbeats (tachycardia). Symptoms include dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and fainting. In rare cases, arrhythmias associated with WPW can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.”
Dr. Timchak was able to control Finnian’s heart disorder with medication, but his health problems were far from over. At seven weeks, he was diagnosed with acid reflux by Barbara Verga, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at Atlantic’s Goryeb Children’s Center at Overlook. Dr. Verga adjusted Finnian’s formula and feeding schedule, offering a remedy that was compatible with his heart condition and medication. Soon after, Finnian began having tremors when he ate. The Keanes consulted Dr. Lorraine Lazar, a pediatric neurologist at Goryeb, who monitored the condition until it soon disappeared. At six months, and through his first birthday, Finnian developed pulmonary issues whenever he was ill, which led the family to Goryeb pediatric pulmonologist April Wazeka, M.D. Dr. Wazeka carefully managed Finn’s subsequent bouts of asthma, pneumonia and swine flu, and continues to see him several times a year to follow up and manage his health. Together, the team of pediatric subspecialists put Finnian on the path to a normal childhood.
“Finnian has made excellent progress since he first walked in here,” commented Dr. Wazeka, “and, hopefully, as he gets older, he will eventually outgrow his asthma.”
“Overlook’s new pediatric subspecialty unit is phenomenal,” remarked Kathleen. “It’s very cheerful and kid-friendly. Finn is very comfortable there. Plus, the staff is so accommodating. They often see him within an hour of our phone call,” said the busy mom, who manages a home-based business and several children’s programs at The Connection in Summit while her husband owns and operates his own restaurant/catering business in Chatham.
Dropping Finnian off for his first day of pre-school, Kathleen was both elated and humbled at all of the health issues her little boy has overcome during his short life.
“We feel so lucky to have met the doctors and nurses at the Goryeb Children’s Center at Overlook,” says Kathleen, choking back tears. “They love our little boy and we wouldn’t pick any other people in the world to care for him.”
Fast Fact: In the United States alone, there are one million people with congenital heart disease, while 15 to 20 percent of all children have some type of asthma.