Woman recovers from rare heart surgery in Overland Park


A 20-year-old woman from North Carolina successfully underwent a rare cardiac procedure and was discharged last week from Overland Park Regional Medical Center. From left to right: Dr. Ahmed Romeya, Jennifer Rigney, Kristiana Rigney and Dr. DJ Lakkireddy

Provided by HCA Midwest

A 20-year-old North Carolina woman with heart disease recently became the youngest in the nation to undergo a new, rarely performed procedure that is being offered at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, according to hospital officials.

The young woman, Kristiana Rigney, was discharged last week after being treated for sinus tachycardia, a condition that causes an unusually fast heartbeat. She and her mother came to Kansas City looking for a hospital that offered the rare procedure. Since recovering in recent days, Rigney has had the chance to enjoy the outdoors again, including a visit to the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Kristiana Rigney after 3 years able to go enjoy the outdoors in KC.jpg2 (1).jpg
Provided by HCA Midwest

Since the age of 14, according to the press release, Rigney has had three hip surgeries, the most recent of which was three years ago. During rehabilitation, she began to feel short of breath and unable to walk on a treadmill or improve with physical therapy. His symptoms included severe fatigue from daily activities.

After visiting doctors in three other states — Tennessee, Minnesota and North Carolina — Rigney was left with few options and was taking “too many drugs to count,” said her mother, Jennifer Rigney. A doctor told them there wasn’t much else they could do, until they learned of a study showing promising results from a new procedure.

Review of medical journals led the Rigneys to Drs. DJ Lakkireddy and Ahmed Romeya at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Mother and daughter arrived in Kansas City in mid-April, and young Rigney was discharged from the hospital on Friday.

In a statement, Lakkireddy, executive medical director of the Kansas City Heart and Rhythm Institute, said the outcome in Rigney’s case is an example of advancing heart care by “being at the cutting edge of research.”

“It’s a spectacular result, with a young woman, who so deserves answers,” Lakkireddy said.

Romeya, another cardiologist who performed the operation, said procedures like the one Rigney underwent gave people “a life they never imagined they could have”.

This story was originally published May 3, 2022 7:28 a.m.

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Bill Lukitsch covers breaking news for The Star. Prior to joining The Star, he covered politics and local government for the Quad-City Times.