Mending a Heart of Gold: Myla's Story

Doctors use a 3D model to perform a complex surgery on 3-year-old Myla Kramer

PEORIA, Ill. - The 3D Heart Library at the Jump Simulation Center of OSF Healthcare is helping surgeons prepare for complex surgeries. This technology is making a world of difference in treatment for patients.

The Kramer Family has 4 children, 3 boys and little sister, Myla. Before Myla was born the family learned news that would change their lives forever, Myla would be born with complex Congenital Heart Defects. But, thanks a 3D heart Myla is going places doctors once thought she might never go.

“She is very energetic and tries to be a comedian at school and at home.” Myla’s mom, Heather Kramer, said.

Myla Kramer loves dolls, playing tea party, and her bright blue Frozen Jeep. She has dad wrapped around her finger. Just looking at Myla, she’s a typical 3-year-old girl.

“Everyone says well she looks fine and she might only have 75% oxygen sitting right next to me, suffering, because she’s in heart failure.” Kramer said.

At 2 weeks old, Myla had her first open heart surgery.  She’s continued to have more open heart surgeries since, every year of her life, sometimes twice.  She’s been on a life support machine, suffered a stroke and gone through rehab to relearn everyday skills.

“When I met her she still had one remaining defect which was multiple complex holes in the base or apex of her heart.” Pediatric Heart Surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, Dr. Mark Plunkett, said.

“It was getting her into trouble.” Dr. Plunkett added.

Dr. Plunkett says a complicated surgery to patch the holes was the only answer for Myla.

“There were times during the course of her hospitalization where we were not sure Myla was going to survive.” Dr. Plunkett said.

He then turned to a 3D model of Myla’s heart to come up with a plan to save this heart of gold.

“It allowed me to look inside and study her heart very carefully so that by the time we actually got to the operating room I knew exactly what I was going to see when I made the incision in her heart and of course true to form it looked just like that.” Dr. Plunkett explained.

“It was a great comfort.” Kramer said.

Myla made a full recovery and she’s back to melting the hearts of many.

“Myla has done great almost in a miraculous way.” Dr. Plunkett said.

“We’re just thankful that she’s here with us now and doing as well as she is.” Kramer added.

Myla is in preschool and her mom says she doesn’t have any limitations. Dr. Plunkett says she’ll need a few more routine surgeries down the line.

Myla was honored as princess of the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Ball this year. Her doctors say they were so happy to see that Myla got her groove back and was out tearing up the dance floor.


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