Note: This story originally ran on June 15, 2020.

How Dell Children’s handled a 6-year-old’s emergency during the pandemic

Last month, Kate Gillum told her first-grade class via Zoom that she had a squirrel heart and she had to go to the hospital to fix it.That was the way she described the fast, irregular heartbeat she had.

Doctors call it atrial ectopic tachycardia, a problem with the heart’s electrical system.

Kate’s case was the first time her doctor performed what’s called an ablation while a patient is on ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. An ablation uses radiofrequency to destroy the cells that are causing the irregular heart rhythm; ECMO uses a machine to circulate the body’s blood for the heart.

Doing this required the enhanced cardiac team that is now in place at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and the new cardiac care unit that opened last June.