Mika (8) was recently surprised with good news. He participated in a giveaway from Hartpatiënten Nederland and was one of the lucky ones who won a Vital Beat protection shirt. Reason enough for an interview: why did he participate and how does he like the shirt?
Many wearers of pacemakers, ICDs and S-ICDs struggle with this: how do you deal with a medical device in your body? What can you do and for which activities is it wise to be more careful? Vital Beat responds to that need for answers, certainty and reassurance. The company focuses entirely on the development of protective shirts for people with a pacemaker, ICD or S-ICD. These shirts have a custom-made ‘shield’, or a protective pad that is slid into the shirt where the medical device is located with the wearer. The shield is made of the shock-absorbing material D3O. This material is also used in the development of motorcycle suits, protective equipment for stuntmen and helmets for military personnel. The shield in the Vital Beat protection shirts protects against pressure, for example from a seat belt, and against hard blows during, for example, practicing sports.
8-year-old Mika is one of the lucky ones who recently received a custom-made protective shirt from Vital Beat. Mika has had a pacemaker since he was three, but to say that you notice something? No, Mika is a boy like any other who happily explores the world and prefers to play a nice game of football and play outside. Fortunately, with the right protection, this is possible. When Mika was born, nothing was wrong. He was a healthy baby and the pre-pregnancy ultrasounds showed nothing to worry about. However, it turned out to be wrong three months later. Mika developed a high fever and suddenly had a red rash all over his body. “Many diseases such as measles could be ruled out in the hospital,” says his mother Annemieke Fluit. “In the end, the doctors ended up with Kawasaki disease. This is a rare disease that occurs mainly in young children and causes inflammation of the blood vessels. With Mika, the arteries around the heart were inflamed.”
Mika was able to leave the hospital after a while, but was left with a second-degree AV block due to the inflammation in his body. An AV block causes a disturbance in the electrical function around the heart, slowing the heart rhythm. Because Mika was not yet a year old at the time, he was allowed to stay away from the hospital for a year. A baby’s heart does not have to work so hard that cardiac arrhythmias could cause serious problems. Fluit: “But when we came back after that year, the AV block turned out to be worse. We were told that a pacemaker would be unavoidable in the future.”
Since the age of three, Mika has had a pacemaker in the abdominal cavity, below the sternum. Although it is a major intervention for such a young child, his mother was amazed by his resilience. “After 3 days he jumped off his bed again, while I thought: ‘Be careful!’. It says a lot about how quickly children want to do their thing again, and how flexible they are.” Mika now lives his life like everyone else, Fluit continues: “He’s a wonderful kid. He plays football and enjoys playing outside. When playing sports or playing, he always needs protection. The wires of the pacemaker, which lie on the sternum, are particularly vulnerable. With the right protection, he is not allowed to kick box, but with football he can just keep goal or bump into someone else without anything wrong. Until now we used a protective vest that was not very practical in use. That’s why my mother was immediately enthusiastic when she saw the Vital Beat giveaway in HPNLmagazine. “Let’s just try it for our grandson,” she thought. And she won! Via Zoom we went through the correct sizes together with Vital Beat and a week later we already received the shirt. He has now played his first football match of 2022 with the protective shirt, and won 6-3 too!”
This article has originally been released in HPNL Magazine. Read the original article here