The highly-ranker professional pickleballer Thomas Wilson has picked up the paddle once again incredibly quickly after his life-saving operation a few days before.
Wilson recently underwent high-risk surgery in Austin, Texas, to address a congenital heart defect. The team of skilled physicians that carried out the procedure worked a minor miracle, returning him to the court just a few later.
Significant Heart Surgery
Observing 33-year-old Thomas Wilson on the Dripping Springs (TX) court, one might not readily discern his status as one of the Top 10 professional pickleball players worldwide, and they certainly wouldn’t suspect he had undergone significant heart surgery earlier in the summer.
His ordeal began when he started to experience a sudden surge in his heart rate during tournaments. As he explained to CBS Austin, “It wasn’t every time I played. It was when I was on center court, so you have a little bit more adrenaline. That is what would trigger my heart, and it would just get outrageous,”
Struggled To Identify The Root Cause
Numerous physicians struggled to identify the root cause until Wilson sought help at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center.
Reflecting on the experience, Wilson expressed his gratitude: “The team at St. David’s, Dr. Horton, with their expertise, found out what the issue was immediately when I spent over a year elsewhere trying to figure out what it was.”
Dr. Rodney Horton diagnosed Wilson with a congenital heart defect resulting in multiple connections between the atrium and the ventricle.
Dr. Horton explained, “If you have a skip at just the right time, you can potentially conduct down one but not both [pathways] and then go up the other one.”
Warning signs involved fainting spells and sudden, rapid heartbeats. In Wilson’s case, his heart was racing at a staggering 300 beats per minute.
Dr. Horton noted, “I’ve treated people with this type of condition for about 35 years and thought I’d seen everything. His was the fastest conducting pathway I had ever seen.”
Wilson recounted, “He was like, ‘Don’t even walk fast. You need surgery tomorrow morning.’ It was that urgent, which is crazy because I was playing high-level pickleball for like a year, and heartrate got that high five, six times.”
A Heightened Level Of Risk
Given the proximity of the affected area to normal conduction, the surgery carried a heightened level of risk.
However, all went swimmingly, allowing Wilson his quick return to the court and the resumption of his winning streak in tournaments within a week.
Expressing his gratitude, Wilson mused, “I believe God had a hand in it, and I’m just thankful to be alive.”
He’s also glad he didn’t just dismiss his symptoms, stating, “I think it’s one of those things that’s easy to just sweep under the rug like, ‘Oh, my heart is fluttering. I’m fine’, and it’s not like I was having severe pain.
I wasn’t super out of breath when these episodes were happening. It was just something felt off.”
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