Since the age of 14, North Carolina resident Kristiana Rigney’s health journey has been an arduous one: three hip surgeries, with the most recent procedure three years ago.  During post-surgical rehab, she recognized a pattern of feeling out of breath, and was unable to walk on the treadmill or progress in therapy.  After “normal” at-home activities left the 20-year-old feeling fatigued, she was referred to a cardiologist and saw six subspecialty physicians in three states—North Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee—hoping to find a resolution that would improve her quality of life. 

Kristiana’s mother, Jennifer Rigney, says her daughter was “taking too many medications to count. At our final Mayo Clinic visit in March, the doctor said “sorry, but there is nothing more we can do for your daughter.” However, he told us about a study showing good success with a new procedure whereby an EP and cardiovascular physician do a ‘right side entry sinus node sinus sparing ablation for sinus tachycardia.’ Mayo Clinic didn’t perform the surgery yet, and they told us when do, we’ll call you.’” 

Once back home in North Carolina, Jennifer, canvassed medical journals and found Dr. Lakkireddy, who was the Principal Investigator on the study. “I spoke to my Mayo Clinic doctor who understood why we took this avenue and agreed it was the absolute best path for Kristiana. We then picked up the phone and called Dr. Lakkireddy in Overland Park and talked to his staff, who were understanding, patient and compassionate. I sent Kristiana’s medical records to Dr. Lakkireddy and Dr. Romeya.”

Fast forward to late March of 2022, when she met DJ Lakkireddy, MD, and executive medical director of Kansas City Heart and Rhythm Institute, and Ahmed Romeya, MD board-certified interventional cardiologist, through an initial virtual healthcare consultation. Together the physicians reviewed Kristian’s history to learn if she would be a candidate to undergo a rare, new life–changing surgery: Hybrid Sinus Node Sparing. This procedure would treat Kristiana's diagnosis of Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia – a faster–than–normal heart.

Determining she was a candidate for the procedure, which the physicians would perform together, Kristiana and her mother arrived in Kansas City on April 18 in preparation for her surgery at Overland Park Regional Medical Center scheduled for April 21. Discharged on April 29, Kristiana says, “I’ve been given a new life - a life I never, ever knew would be possible. These doctors are my heroes; the nurses my angels from heaven.  I have so much living left, and I’m grateful to everyone at this hospital who helped me live again!”

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The Kansas City Star