Kathleen Mae A. Zapanta, at first glance, is like any other 12-year-old kid. She excels in academics, enjoys learning instruments, and writes songs in her free time. Physically, she is very normal, aside from her heartbeat. She was born on December 15, 2008 with a medical condition called Congenital Heart Block, a condition that requires a lifetime pacemaker implant as the only option to normalize her heartbeat. A pacemaker usually has a lifespan of 6-10 years.
She was already very fragile back when she was still in the womb. Her mother was on bedrest throughout majority of her pregnancy due to her weak hold and placenta previa position condition. At 7 months into the pregnancy, Kathleen’s heart beat suddenly skipped beat, so she was on close monitoring up to the day that she was born via cesarean section operation. On same day she was born, she was transferred to Philippine Heart Center. Come December 20, 2008 at 5 days old, after series of tests and blood transfusions, Kathleen underwent her first implant surgery that lasted for 3 hours. Her recovery took 10 days due to some complications. She spent her 1st Christmas at the hospital’s NICU. She was discharged December 31 and spent her first new year at home.
Kathleen grew up a little sickly, but she still managed to live a very normal life. Although there were many restrictions. She had to avoid many things that could affect or endanger her pacemaker, such as extreme physical activities, magnets, phones, and metal detectors like those in mall entrances. Despite all that, she grew up smart, kind, and a loving daughter and sister. Though, since she was a baby when she first underwent operation, she was not that aware of what she went through, she just knew that she had to go through an operation back when she was a baby.
Normally, a pacemaker’s lifespan would reach around 6-10 years. However, last June 2015 on the very first day of classes of her 2nd grade, she fainted in her classroom and was rushed to Medical City emergency. It was found out that the wire of the pacemaker connecting to her heart was detached. The battery is still working, it still had around 2 to 3 years lifespan remaining, but the wire was already severed so it ultimately did not reach her heart to function. Thus, we decided to have it replaced and Kathleen had to undergo a sudden pacemaker replacement operation for the 2nd time.
After the operation, since this time she was aware of what she went through, Kathleen developed anxiety, more specifically, a fear of death. Based on studies, most cases of post-operations often lead to patients developing anxiety. At that point, it was hard for Kathleen, having to consider treatment and therapy. She had to skip 1 year for school, and we tried all possible options to help her recover. With all the love and care, we managed to continue giving her a normal life. She is now on her 6th grade, living a normal life again. Kathleen’s having fun with her classmates and friends, she is even exceling in her class and a consistent honor student.
However, from her last check up last January, it was so sad to find out that her battery is draining out and again needs replacement, which we plan to schedule on the coming school break. A pacemaker implant cost is quite expensive, and during this time of pandemic, it is hard to save up funds. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) medical assistance no longer covers help for pacemaker gadgets due to limited funds caused by the pandemic, so we can no longer apply for it this time around.
Please consider donating or helping by sharing this campaign to raise funds for Kathleen’s operation.
- Amado Zapanta