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When Avery was hospitalized unexpectedly, her parents learned that her existing heart blockage had worsened. That’s when they turned to pediatric electrophysiologist Dan Cortez. In order for Avery’s heartbeat to normalize, the Clarks had to decide if their daughter would receive a traditional pacemaker the size of a matchbox, or a leadless pacemaker the size of a pill.

“The choice was pretty straightforward. We wanted the smaller one, without all of the leads and cords. It could be implanted directly into her heart without surgery,” said Owen Clark.

Cortez is the world’s leading expert for his unique, minimally invasive procedure on children. And Avery is the first of only three patients to receive this procedure at UC Davis Children’s Hospital so far.

Many physicians in Northern California are trained to implant the device in adults through the leg vein. However, Cortez is the first in Northern California to have implanted the device through the internal jugular vein, located on the side of the neck.

“Avery had the smallest incision and recovery was minor,” Owen Clark remembered.

Now she has been fully cleared for all physical activity, and her teachers have noted a marked improvement in her energy level at school.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to help children and families when they need a pacemaker using this advanced technology,” Cortez said. “We are the only center in the world doing this procedure through the neck vein without surgical intervention in children. No long recovery times.”

Committed to providing families world-class pediatric care

As Sacramento’s only nationally ranked, comprehensive children’s hospital, we’re honored to offer world-class expertise and novel innovations that help improve the lives of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

From everyday children’s care to the most complex challenges, our hospital is home to the Central Valley’s only level I pediatric and adult trauma center, offering the highest level of care for its critically ill patients; a level I Children’s Surgery Center with pediatric anesthesiologists and dedicated rooms available 24 hours a day; a level IV Newborn ICU (the highest level of care); and a state-of-the-art pediatric and cardiac intensive care unit.

With pediatricians at 17 convenient clinics plus experts in more than 30 subspecialties, you’ll always have an extraordinary team behind you.

Also proud to offer our patients and region:

  • Nationally ranked care in neonatology, nephrology, orthopedics*, and urology*
  • A nationally recognized pediatric telehealth program that provides advanced care to children throughout California
  • Magnet® designation — the nation’s highest recognition for nursing excellence

*Together with Shriners Children’s Northern California

Learn more about our services or find a doctor your child connects with today at children.ucdavis.edu.