Breakthrough heart procedure has Moore teen back on the baseball field

OKLAHOMA - Life has been a difficult journey for 13-year-old Sam Palmer.

He was born with a heart valve defect.

"Probably 45 minutes after birth, he was taken to ICU," said his father, Jason Palmer.

The newborn was flown to Atlanta for emergency surgery.

"He wasn't sick. He was broken," Jason said. "We had a good team of people take care of him and fix it."

To their dismay, Sam would need another surgery at 5 to improve oxygen-poor blood being pumped through his body.

It was heartbreaking for his parents.

"I never cry. Men don't cry," Jason said. "But, the day he was born and the day we went through this, I boohoo'ed."

A few months ago, Sam's parents noticed their normally active baseball player had once again started losing his energy and appetite.

But, Children's Hospital had a fresh option for the family - a new procedure called the 'Medtronic Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve' procedure.

Rather than open heart surgery, the 'Melody Valve' is placed onto a catheter and inserted through a vein in the leg.

"It's taken out of a 2,000 pound cow that gets big enough for us to use in a human," said Pediactric Cardiologist Dr. Charles Sperrazza.

Recovery is only days, not months.

"No stitches," Sperrazza said. "The next day, the dressing comes off, and he has a band aid."

The minimally invasive procedure was on Thursday.

Sam was back to school on Monday.

"Before the surgery, I would get really tired easily. I couldn't keep up with friends," he said. "And, now, I can run longer."

Within a week, Sam was ready to play ball and enjoy the life of a typical teen.

"He dove for a ball in outfield and caught it," his father said. "He's back. I can't wait to see him over the next couple of months."