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Camden's Giving Heart

November 27, 2019

Fifteen-year-old Camden Tucker of Springdale is a typical, busy teenager. You would never know she’s had not one, not two, but three surgeries and procedures on her heart.

 

When Camden was 5 years old, she visited Arkansas Children’s Hospital for the first time. She had been diagnosed with subaortic stenosis, which occurs when the flow of blood from the heart’s pumping chamber, or left ventricle is restricted. If left untreated, subaortic stenosis can result in heart failure.

 

Camden had open-heart surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The life-saving surgery allowed the correct amount of blood to flow through her heart, distributing it throughout her body properly.

 

After a four-day recovery, she was at home and back to being a typical kid. Camden continued to visit the heart clinic at ACH for checkups every six months. Then, when she was 13, Camden’s heart began acting up again.

 

“One day after dance, we were running, and my heart rate kept going up and up. But it never came down,” says Camden. “I had really bad chest pain, a headache, and pain in my arms and legs.” She was rushed to her local hospital, who called Arkansas Children's for help.

 

This condition is called supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, which is essentially an abnormally fast heartbeat. Camden was given medicine which finally brought her heart rate back down.

 

But the danger hadn’t passed. Camden had a choice: stay on medication or have a procedure. Because she didn’t feel her best on the medicine, Camden chose the latter.

 

The procedure consisted of what’s called an ablation—the tiny portion of Camden’s heart that was causing it to race was identified and corrected.

 

Camden says, “It was really scary, but Dr. Das put my mind at ease. He told me I would only be out of school for three days. I spent the night at ACH and was allowed to go home the next day. I returned to school two days later.”

 

Then, about four months later, Camden returned to ACH for a second ablation surgery. It went as smoothly as the first, and Camden was back to being a teenager in just a few days.

 

“I’m so glad I went through the surgeries,” says Camden. “I would go through it again if they told me I needed to.”

 

Camden is grateful for the care she’s received at ACH and has paid it forward through her participation in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Holiday Card Program.

 

In 1968, the ACH Auxiliary decided to share patient art with others by selling holiday cards, each featuring original artwork created by Arkansas Children’s patients. The Holiday Card Project has grown over the years, and now includes specialty items such as gift tags and ornaments.

 

Camden’s first card was offered for sale through the program when she was four years old, and she continued to participate in the program for the next five years.

 

Camden has also collected art supplies to donate to the hospital and has shared her story with local radio stations during the Miracles & Magic Radiothon, held annually at Arkansas Children's Northwest in Springdale, Ark.

 

“When I was little, especially when I was in the hospital, it was my saving grace to go to the art room. It’s what made me happy,” says Camden. “I wanted to give other kids who were going through this to have the same joy.”

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