Rare Heart Condition Less Rare in NEA

POCAHONTAS, AR--It's a rare heart condition in which half of the heart is underdeveloped. Doctors don't know if the cause is genetics or environmental factors, however doctors have seen at least seven cases here in Northeast Arkansas.

While Karson Weitkamp is less than a year old, he has already had an eventful life.

"He's a miracle. He's a miracle baby to have gone through open heart surgery at three days old and to be 10 1/2 lbs at three and a half months, it's amazing," said Nicole Weitkamp.

That's because Karson was diagnosed with a rare heart condition.

"Karson has hypoplastic left heart syndrome where the left side of the heart doesn't develop, so there is no way to pump blood to the body," said Weitkamp.

While HLHS is fairly rare nationwide, doctors say they have seen more cases in Northeast Arkansas. It's a condition that doctors have just begun to recognize in the last 20 years.

"If you have a baby and you don't know this condition and you go home, it's very possible your kid can pass away during the night and they might think it was SIDS," said Weitkamp.

The Weitkamps were having a normal pregnancy with Karson when they went in for a regular visit at about 25 weeks and because of an extra procedure done, they might have saved young Karson's life.

"My doctor is an ultra sound guru. He loves to do ultra sounds, so he actually did an extra one just to be sure everything was ok and found the left side of the heart didn't look the way it was supposed to," said Weitkamp.

Karson's mother says that early diagnosis helped to get Karson the care he needed and recommends all mothers to get the proper pre-natal care.

"Have that ultra sound. Have that extra check just to make sure from head to toe that everything is ok with your child," said Weitkamp.

Because of that extra check Karson is doing better than expected and back to doing what most babies do best, sleeping.

"He's a special blessing he's a miracle and God is going to do great things by him," said Weitkamp.

While Karson has already had one open heart surgery he can expect to have at least two more. Sometime in the next two months he will have another surgery to see how his little heart is progressing.