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Indiana brothers living with same heart condition

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Posted at 6:34 PM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-24 18:34:17-05

INDIANAPOLIS — At just 11-years-old, Waylon Wolka has survived cardiac arrest five times.

"I don't really know that it happens, and then when I wake up I don't feel anything," Waylon said. "When I pass out, the device shocks my heart so I wake back up."

Waylon and his brother, 3-year-old Ridge, both have Long QT, a genetic condition.

Their mom, April Wolka, says the scariest part is not knowing when a cardiac arrest could occur.

"There's not like a warning ... and there's not really anything you can do to 100% prevent having a cardiac event," April said. "It's a delicate balance between quality of life and trying to be a kid but trying to be protective at the same time."

Waylon participates in robotics and is manager of his school basketball team.

"People sometimes call me a robot because I have metal and a device in me," Waylon said.

Dr. Leonard Steinberg is a pediatric cardiologist at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.

"Sometimes the heart goes out of rhythm and people feel a palpitation or a flutter. But for Waylon and Ridge, if the heart goes out of rhythm, it can't effectively pump blood to the brain or other organs," Dr. Steinberg said.

Treatment includes medication and, in the Wolka boys' case, an ICD. The device is like a pacemaker + AED combo attached to their hearts.

"These devices have provided a life saving approach that allows them to carry on," Steinberg said. "These kids can live into adulthood and have normal lives and normal life spans with technology just like this."

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Dr. Leonard Steinberg holds up an ICD.

The brothers recently got to go to a Pacers game, and his bedroom is now all decked out in Pacers decorations.

Waylon tells WRTV he wants to be a dog trainer, sell pumpkins and play golf when he grows up.