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Oregon teen tries to earn 'superhero' status for her doctor

Doctor fix irregular heart rate

OREGON, Wis. - Katelyn Soldatke, a sixth-grader at Rome Corners Elementary School, is one of five finalists in a national DC Comics contest after writing about a real hero in her life.

Two years ago "Katie" was diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia called supra-ventricular tachycardia, or SVT, that made it hard for her to do the things she loved.

She loved to dance and ride horses, but SVT caused her to have episodes where her heart raced up to 240 beats per minute in an instant. This forced her to sit out of dance classes, stay off horses, and keep her from playing with friends.

"I would go to my dance class just start warming up, five minutes into it I would have this rapid heart rate," said Kaite Soldatke.

SVT affects 1 in 1000 people.

"It wasn't something she would die from like a cancer, but it wouldn't let her do the things she wanted to do. It affected her a lot socially and mentally when everyone else was doing them at 10- and 11-year-old kids," said Katie's father Chad Soldatke.

But then her family met pediatric cardiologist Dr. Nicholas Von Bergen and there was hope. Von Bergen is based at the University of Iowa but came to Madison's American Family Children's Hospital to "fix" Katie's heart.

His first attempt was unsuccessful, but he didn't give up. A year later he tried again using less anesthesia.

"We were able to use some energy, some cold therapy then freeze that little guy, this little extra piece of muscle that caused all the trouble and then after that she was done," said Von Bergen in a Skype interview.

Oregon teen tries to earn "superhero" status for her doctor

Nearly a year later Katie has not had an episode and continues dancing and horseback riding.

She called Von Bergen her hero and in her contest entry wrote he not only healed her heart, he healed her whole life.

If Katie wins the contest, she will get a trip to DC-Entertainment offices and a tour of the Warner Bros. animation studio. Von Bergen would win $2500 to the charity of his choice.

Voting ends Monday May 27. The winner will be revealed on May 30.

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