Brave Harpenden schoolgirl Eva proves to be all heart with charity race

Eva Higgins of Harpenden

Eva Higgins of Harpenden - Credit: photo supplied

Weeks after undergoing surgery, and just one year after being rushed to hospital with her heart pounding at a scary 240 beats per minute a brave nine year old girl is fundraising to help other youngsters.

In June last year Eva Higgins felt unwell when her heart suddenly began racing during lunchtime at Manland Primary School in Harpenden.

Her mum, Sam Higgins, explained that luckily for her daughter - then aged eight - lunchtime assistant Lesley Martin took one look at her and immediately recognised she was showing signs of a heart condition called Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), characterised by a fast heartbeat.

Sam said: “She knew the symptoms as her own daughter has the same condition.”

Lesley immediately set about trying to reduce the girl’s heartbeat while awaiting an ambulance.

Sam, who was called to the school, said she was “totally shocked” at seeing Eva so ill, and added that she and her husband, Darren, “can’t thank Mrs Martin enough for trying different ways to revert Eva’s heart back to normal rhythm while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

“Her heart was beating at 240 beats per minute!”

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In a further stroke of luck, a paramedic attending the stricken girl in the ambulance had just taken a course on SVT the week before, and Eva was her first patient.

Eva was put on oxygen as her heart had been racing for over two hours, and she was rushed to Luton and Dunstable hospital.

After tests established she was suffering SVT, Eva was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, where her cardiologist warned she would have more attacks.

As predicted, in the following weeks Eva suffered four more attacks.

Apart from a racing heart, signs include a sudden headache and feeling very unwell.

Sam said: “Her jugular vein was literally pounding, and Eva describes it as being like a drum pounding in her ears.

“She was so strong and courageous dealing with the attacks, she managed to revert her heart back to rhythm herself.

“Things she had to try to do this were, while holding her nose and with her mouth closed, blowing as hard as she could, or drinking a very, very cold drink or sucking hard on an ice lolly or ice cube or taking a deep breath and coughing hard.

“All these things were to try and shock the heart back to rhythm.”

On November 10, however, Sam received an urgent phone call from the school, saying that Eva was having another attack.

She said: “I arrived immediately and Eva said ‘mum I can’t do this one, I need an ambulance’.”

At hospital Eva was prescribed daily beta-blockers to stabilise her heart - medication used to treat conditions such as heart failure and angina.

Unfortunately she had to undergo surgery at GOSH in Easter, where during the operation doctors found she had two conditions, including one caused by an extra electrical connection in the heart.

While awaiting surgery, Eva saw posters for the Race for Kids 5K fun run/walk in Battersea Park, London, this Sunday (7), for the hospital’s children’s charity.

Sam said: “She asked ‘mum can you sign me up please, I want to take part and raise some money’.

“Her dad and I couldn’t believe she was about to have an operation and thinking of wanting to take part in a sponsored race.

“She has been recovering well since the op nearly nine weeks ago. We are so proud of how Eva has been so strong and resilient over this last year.”

Her daughter will be walking in the event, and has raised about £1,000 so far.

To donate, go to http://events.gosh.org/goto/teameva

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