Non-surgical heart procedures
Even if you have a serious heart condition, you might not need a mega operation.
Many things can go wrong with hearts, either before or after birth, and they need putting right.
Because doctors are so clever these days and technology is so ace, a lot can be done to help children with poorly hearts.
What's really amazing is that even if you have a serious heart condition, you might not need a mega operation. Instead, what's called a "non-surgical procedure" could be enough put the problem right.
Non-surgical or "keyhole" procedures are being done more and more at Birmingham Children's Hospital, which is one of the top hospitals in Europe for this kind of heart treatment. It can be carried out on children of all ages – from babies to teenagers.
For example, we can close "holes in the heart" using vessels from the groin. The procedure is usually so straightforward that you don't even need to stay in hospital overnight.
A new and cutting-edge procedure is to replace a heart valve through the skin.
"This is usually carried out on children who have had surgery when they were young and as they've grown their heart valves have started leaking," explains Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Chetan Mehta. "In younger children, this requires surgical repair or replacement. However, in older children and adults we can now replace the valve or valves with a keyhole procedure."
Not only are these procedures less risky than full-blown surgery, they don't leave scars. And because you go into a special sleep, it doesn't hurt. You might also have a keyhole procedure to keep you well until the right time comes for you to have an operation.
Another reason it's really cool to be treated for heart problems here is that if you need more than one type of treatment, doctors can work together, even though they are doing different things.
"There are four or five of us in the cardiac services team doing this specialist non-surgical work," says Dr Mehta. "The procedures we do can complement the work of the surgical team."