She is just 18 years old, but Kaitlin Best's heart has flatlined 10 times in the past year.

The Stratford teen was told last week she is able to have surgery this week to fix this.

The only problem - she needed to find $10,000 first.

Fortunately for Kaitlin, strangers have helped her raise that money.


Kaitlin set up a Givealittle page online to try to raise the money. On Monday evening, the Stratford Press ran an article online, telling her story. It was soon shared across social media platforms, including The Hits Taranaki. Overnight, the money came in and Kaitlin will be able to have her surgery this week.

"I had a visit from the Mellowpuff Trust yesterday who donated $5000, which combined with the generosity of so many people online has helped me reach the target."

The surgery will be life-changing, says Kaitlin.

"I want my quality of life back."

Kaitlin has supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a condition which causes her heart to beat excessively fast.

In what Kaitlin and family call 'glitches', her heart beat can increase dramatically. While a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, Kaitlin's is normally around 160, and when she experiences what she terms 'glitches', that increases to 250-300.

"It feels almost like you are having a really strong anxiety attack that doesn't stop. I lose the feeling in my arms and my legs, and after two hours I start to go white and have the potential to pass out unless it is flatlined."

When this happens, an injection of adenosine causes her heart to chemically flatline.


"Otherwise my heart would drown in its own blood."

Her condition was diagnosed just one year ago, when the normally healthy and active teenager felt dizzy at work.

"I thought I was just feeling a bit off, maybe I was winded or something, but it didn't go away and I felt faint."

After numerous hospital visits she finally had a diagnosis, but still no solution.

"The common fix for it is a surgical ablation, but we just kept waiting. Meanwhile I was spending days at a time in the hospital. I had to give up my job at Colonel Malones, stop playing sport, and basically stop living a normal life."

After her heart had been flatlined nine times, the family made the decision to pay for the surgery privately.

That surgery took place a month ago, and while it means her heart rate has reduced slightly, now sitting at 140bpm, it hasn't fixed the problem.

"Normally the surgery is done in around an hour, and surgeons 'burn' about three nerve endings to block the electrical signals causing the problem. My surgery took closer to three hours, they burned 15 nerve endings and it didn't really solve the problem."

This Thursday, Kaitlin is having a second surgery.

"I feel let down by the public health system really, as it took a long time to get diagnosed, and then the wait for surgery became too long. Luckily we have health insurance, but it doesn't cover the whole cost and after paying $7500 just a few weeks ago, I needed to find around $10,000 for this second surgery, flights to Auckland and accommodation for my family there."

Kaitlin says she has tried to stay positive through the experience, and has been determined to live as normal a life as possible.

"Rather than going on a benefit I have been lucky enough to have a friend who was willing to employ me at her business Kode Boutique in New Plymouth. So I could still earn some money."

Kaitlin says asking for help through the online fundraising page Givealittle was a hard decision.

"Friends suggested it, but I felt uncomfortable asking strangers for help."

This week, she is overwhelmed by the response she says.

"It really shows who a community can come together in times of need. The generosity of everybody is overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who has helped."