Jodi Whitaker

First Patient Known to Undergo Triple Ablation Enjoys New Lease on Life

Published: Apr 9, 2012


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 9, 2012) - At 42, Ollie Whitaker of Whitesburg, suffered a massive heart attack. It was at that point in her life, things changed forever.


"I never could do much of anything since the heart attack," said Whitaker, now 72 and a life-long homemaker who is the mother of four grown children. "I went to doctors, and they tried everything until there was no more to offer."


That was before she met Dr. Samy Claude Elayi, a cardiologist with UK's Gill heart Institute.


When Whitaker came to UK, Elayi and his team found themselves looking for answers. Whitaker was suffering from several heart issues. An internal defibrillator - which is used to "shock" Whitaker's heart back into rhythm during one of three different arrhythmias she suffered from - was shocking her repeatedly. Each time her heart was shocked, Whitaker had to make a three-hour trip from her home in Whitesburg to Lexington via ambulance or helicopter.


"I wouldn't wish it on anybody," said Whitaker about living through numerous shocks. "It was hard to get used to. I was in the hospital every time I turned around."


During each trip, Whitaker's condition would worsen.


"The defibrillator going off is a very bad experience for those have gone through and it is typically described as a 'horse kicking the chest'," said Elayi. "It can really deteriorate the quality of life when it is frequent, as one never knows when it is going to happen."

Elayi knew that ablation surgery was the only way to stop the shocks.


The procedure consists of inserting a catheter inserted into a patient's blood vessels to remove a faulty electrical pathway and tissue from the patient's heart. Typically, the catheter is placed into the patient's femoral artery, internal jugular or subclavian vein. The catheter is guided toward the heart, and high-frequency electrical impulses are used to induce the arrhythmia and then destroy (or ablate) the abnormal tissue causing it. Those can be in limited area or larger areas, depending of the nature of the arrhythmia.


Typically, the procedure is performed with one target, rarely two. But Whitaker's case performed in December 2010 was even more complex.


Elayi and his team - which included Dr. Gustavo Morales - performed an unusual procedure in Whitaker's case. Whitaker becoming the first known patient to have a triple ablation during the same procedure targeting three areas of the heart in three different chambers of the heart to help it maintain a regular rhythm.


"Performing two ablations during one procedure is commonly done, but three with this complexity is basically unheard of," said Elayi. "But in this patient's case, despite the risk, I believed that we could perform three ablations - one for her ventricular tachycardia, one for atrial fibrillation and a third for her atrial flutter, to be effective and do everything when we are in the heart."


Elayi and his team perform hundreds of ablations on heart patients each year. Some of those procedures can last one or two hours; others, like Whitaker's procedure can last more than 10 hours, depending on the complexity of the case.


Today, more than a year after the procedure, Whitaker is thankful for Elayi and his team and for their willingness to perform such a complex procedure at once.


"I'm so very pleased," Whitaker said. "And I feel so much better." She now says she is able to do some of the things that she hasn't been able to do for a while - things that many people take for granted.


"I can work in my flower bed outside and do more around the house," Whitaker said. "It's easier than it was before. And the best part is, I haven't been shocked in over a year. I'm doing very well."


 Media Contact:  Jodi Whitaker,

Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
What Makes You "YOU: with Brett T. Spear
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Screening of the documentary Teached
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
UK Lab Safety Fair
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
PEIK Seminar: Jim Rogers
Oct 31
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman 10/31/2014

Fri, 10/31/2014

Sat, 11/01/2014

Reset Page