Chris Smith

Living with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

I underwent a catheter ablation procedure in November 2009 after being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome in May 2009 following a CRY screening at Myerscough College in March 2009. I was a fit and healthy swimmer in my final year at school, I trained at my club 5 times a week and up until 2 weeks before the screening I had not experienced any symptoms at all. My first inkling that anything could be wrong with me happened during a training session where I experienced a rapid heart rate and chest pain, this was a frightening experience. I didn’t experience any other symptoms until after the screening. I went along to the screening not expecting to be told anything untoward. I was surprised to be called in with my Mum to see the cardiologist Dr Michael Papadakis and told there was an abnormality with my ECG, I was told it would be sent to London for Professor Sanjay Sharma to look at. I was then invited down to London for further tests and following these tests I was diagnosed with WPW.

20x30-SALA0419 Chris SmithBy the time I went to London in May for the tests I was experiencing more and more symptoms. These increased in frequency and severity that they were affecting my everyday life. I was having symptoms more and more often up to four or five times a week and not only when exercising I was having episodes when sitting at my desk at school. When Professor Sharma told me the diagnosis he discussed treatment options with me and my parents and recommended catheter ablation as he felt drug treatment would not be very suitable for me as the drugs would affect my swimming. I decided that the catheter ablation would hopefully offer me a permanent cure.

I was referred to Dr. Murgatroyd at King’s College Hospital London where he agreed to perform the ablation, I went in for the procedure on the 5th November 2009. It felt strange to be the youngest person on the ward knowing that there was something wrong with my heart; I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at the thought of what was going to happen to me. The doctors and nurses were very kind at putting my mind to rest. The procedure felt very strange and a little uncomfortable. It didn’t feel right being awake but less than 2 hours later I was on the ward. I was told to rest in the hospital bed for a couple of hours then I was brought something to eat and drink. I was then given an ECG which looked to be normal and was told he was 90% positive on a cure. I was then discharged from the hospital and allowed to go back to our hotel for an overnight stay. I was told to take things easy for a few days and apart from some bruising in my groin I felt fine and relieved it was all over.

I have now been discharged from the hospital and my WPW is completely cured. I have been symptom free for almost two years now. I am now back into swimming and have started open water swimming which I now use to raise money and awareness for CRY through sponsorship. I will be forever grateful to CRY for all the help and support they have given me and for saving my life. I am a very lucky young man, thanks to CRY. If anyone is told they need an ablation, I would say to them don’t be afraid and have it done. It will change your life, it did for me.