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TEEN RECEIVES UPDATED PACEMAKER IMPROVED DEVICE TO END GIRL'S FAINTING SPELLS.

Byline: Jason Kandel Staff Writer

WESTWOOD - One of Stacy Klein's last fainting spells occurred during a health class at Calabasas High School.

She had been focusing on what the teacher was saying, and then all of the sudden the room got blotchy and she started sweating.

``At that point, I knew I was going to faint,'' she said. ``I laid down on the floor and got my feet up. That was like the last straw that got us to the point where we are at right now.''

Where she was at Saturday was in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery in which doctors successfully implanted a new pacemaker.

Her doctor said Stacy, 14, was the first child in the United States to receive the new implantable cardiac pacemaker designed in the Netherlands with a new feature that senses when the heart rate slows abnormally.

``It picks up the problem earlier and more accurately than traditional pacemakers,'' said Stacy's doctor, Dr. Kevin Shannon, a pediatric arrhythmia specialist at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

Stacy recalled her traumatic fainting spells and the surgery that could change her life from her hospital bed at Mattel the day before she was expected to be released.

The pacemaker, by Vitatron Medical in the Netherlands, has been available for use in Europe for more than a year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the new technology for use at the end of November. A 60-year-old L.A. man became the first person in the United States to receive the pacemaker.

Stacy became the ideal candidate for the approximately $12,000 surgery

several months ago, when cardiologists learned that she suffered from an abnormal regulation of the heartbeat, called vasovagal syncope. About 20 percent of adults have experienced or will experience an episode of vasovagal syncope in their lifetimes. But Stacy's case was extreme.

``She's passed out on occasion as many as eight times in a day,'' Shannon said. ``On more than one occasion she has injured herself. This was having a fairly dramatic effect on her life.''

For Stacy, though, fainting spells may be a thing of the past.

``I'm pretty confident we got this thing licked,'' the doctor said. ``It shouldn't happen with her again. Her heart rate fell early this morning and the pacemaker intervened. She didn't feel a thing.''

With the fainting spells, Stacy's mother, Marla, 46, had a difficult time letting her daughter out of her sight.

``She'd be sitting at the table. One second she'd be fine. The next second, she'd say, `Mummy' . . . and she'd be on the floor,'' her mother said. ``I was always afraid when she's not with me what would happen when she would cross a street.''

Now she's confident things will be different.

``She'll be happy out with friends, doing normal kids' stuff when she should be doing normal kids' stuff.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Stacy Klein, 14, is recovering from Friday's pacemaker surgery, which doctors expect will end chronic fainting spells.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 10, 2000
Words:501
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