Published: Friday, April 4th, 2014
Hannah's in the running
A patient of the Golden Jubilee National Hospital has successfully completed the New York Marathon, raising £2,500 for charity just six days after being treated by doctors and nurses at the Scottish Adult Congenital Cardiac Service (SACCS).
Hannah Millar has been an outpatient at the SACCS service – based at the Golden Jubilee - for the last four years, allowing specialists to monitor the progress of cardiac repair surgery she underwent at just 18 months old.
In the 27 years since the operation, Hannah had never experienced any complications or issues with her heart. But just six days before she was scheduled to run the New York Marathon for charity, she suddenly began to feel unwell.
Discussing her situation, Hannah said: "I had put in all the training and raised over £2,000 for charity; my family had even planned a trip to come and watch me run, so the pressure was on.
"During my last check up at the Golden Jubilee, I had been given a phone number for a Nurse Practitioner, so when I began to feel my heartbeat racing, I sent a text. Within 20 minutes, I was called back by Jim Mearns, Nurse Practitioner at the Golden Jubilee."
Commenting on her case, Jim said: "When Hannah contacted the team, it was clear we had to see her and assess whether or not there was a problem either electrically or structurally with her heart. We also had to evaluate whether or not this would impact her ability to travel to New York, never mind to run for twenty six miles. Clearly, we had a tight deadline for this assignment."
Upon arriving at the Golden Jubilee, Hannah was fitted with a 24-hour heart monitor and asked to return the following morning to check for any irregularities.
When Hannah returned the next morning, she found out the tape had detected SupraVentricular Tachycardia (SVT), a condition which presents itself through an irregular heart rhythm, meaning further tests were required.
Hannah said: "I have to say that I was devastated; this put everything I had worked for on the line. I was to return first thing the following morning to undergo an echocardiogram (echo) and an electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess if the structure of the heart had changed since my last check up. This was the same day we were scheduled to meet my family and fly out at 5pm; I drove home in tears and, apprehensively, began packing.
"The next morning, Jim met us and I was taken straight up for an ECG. The team were incredibly reassuring and within ten minutes we were chatting away about the marathon and telling me stories of others (particularly brides) who had been in a similar situation. By the time the ECG began, I had almost forgotten what was going on."
By 11am, the results of both Hannah's ECG and Echo had returned, revealing that there was no damage to her heart. While the team were unable to endorse Hannah to run, they informed her she was in no worse a condition than when she had been before.
Hannah continued: "I finished the marathon in four hours, fifteen minutes and thirty-two seconds, raising two thousand five hundred pounds for charity. On finishing, I text Jim to let him know I had done it, and how grateful I was for everything they did.
"I got a quick response to say the team had been tracking me online – I was completely overwhelmed. The support and warmth I felt from the doctors and nurses was such a lift. They were 100% there for me just when I needed it most; I don't think I fully realised how lucky I was to have such great services available until after the race."
Having watched Hannah's incredible story unfold, Jim said: "It is estimated there are now more than 15,000 patients over the age of 16 living with similar conditions in Scotland. Thanks to the dramatically improved success rates of paediatric care, much greater numbers of children are surviving into adulthood following intervention.
"These young people can now grow up to have the same hopes as the rest of us but not all of them can run a marathon. As a runner myself, I know how challenging this is to train for; Hannah's achievement is remarkable and her story is truly inspirational."