11-year-old girl gets life saving surgery at Wolfson Children’s Hospital after her heart stops beating

Peace of mind for Addison

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A rare condition was caught just in time by doctors at Wolfson Children’s Hospital as 11-year-old Addison Slater’s heart had stopped beating.

“We were trying to wake her up and she wouldn’t wake up,” explains Alicia Slater, Addison’s mom.

The Slaters had just left for a family vacation in Alabama this past summer when it quickly took a turn for the worst.

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“Her whole body turned white, she had no lips she had no freckles,” Slater said.

This wasn’t the first time Addison had passed out, but it was certainly the worst.

Addison was born with a form of POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. It’s a condition that affects blood flow.

"Sometimes when I stood up too quickly and started moving around, I would feel dizzy and lightheaded so I would have to sit down,” Addison said.

But what she and family didn’t know was that she also has extremely rare form of autonomic dysfunction.

“She has a form where she actually drops her heart rate profoundly," said Dr. Sunita Ferns, of Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

It’s a condition she was diagnosed with only one month before she had that terrifying episode while on family vacation.

One that Ferns, a pediatric cardiologist at Wolfson, was able to monitor on her screen, thanks to the heart monitor they had just implanted in Addison’s chest.

“It showed that her heart had stopped beating for almost six seconds, which was significant,” Ferns said.

A week later, Addison had a lifesaving pacemaker put in and despite not being able to lift her arm for two months after, her whole world as gotten a little brighter.

“I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out as much anymore,” Addison said.

She’s able to play all her favorite instruments, sing her favorite songs and brush up on her geography with her grandma, all without getting too tired.

Most importantly, her mother, Alicia, can breathe with a little more ease.

“She hasn’t passed out at all since then and really it’s just the freedom of not worrying about it,” Slater said.