October 2, 2020

1 year of JPCH: Pediatric cath lab helping the province’s littlest hearts

This past year, our province’s tiniest hearts have been receiving specialized cardiac care at the new pediatric catheterization lab at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.

The province’s very first dedicated pediatric cardiac catheterization lab is located on the ground floor of the children’s hospital. A specialized team of professionals works with the pediatric cardiologist to perform cardiac catheterizations, which is a procedure used to examine heart problems, as well as treat heart conditions.

Part of the work in the lab is the actual physical fixing of the heart, such as closing holes or opening valves. Other procedures are to gather information to plan for upcoming heart surgeries or to check the health of the heart after surgeries or heart transplants.

At only four years old, little Laura from Dundurn, Sask. requires care at the catheterization lab to help keep her transplanted heart healthy.

In June, Laura underwent a successful coronary angiogram and heart biopsy at JPCH’s cath lab. A coronary angiogram is a test that uses a special dye to detect heart problems, while a biopsy takes tiny samples of heart tissue to detect any abnormalities. This marked Laura’s fourth time having this set of procedures done, and next year she will undergo the same procedures again. Last year, Laura had the procedures done at the adult catheterization lab at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, but before that, her family chose to travel to the children’s hospital in Edmonton.

“Our experience in the cath lab was great. Laura didn’t have any unnecessary waiting and she was treated well by all hospital staff. Laura doesn’t take well to anesthesia and the nurses were very lovely and patient in dealing with her,” said Laura’s mom Sarah.

When Laura was born in 2016, she appeared to be in perfect health, but only seven hours later, nothing seemed perfect at all. It wasn’t long until doctors confirmed she had a congenital heart defect. Corrective open heart surgery was needed immediately and Laura was airlifted to Edmonton at only two days old.

Unfortunately, after multiple surgical procedures, Laura’s heart still could not function on its own, and she needed a life-saving heart transplant. After 54 days of waiting, and just days before turning four months old, Laura received her new heart.

Today, Laura is healthy and thriving. She visits the pediatric Outpatient Cardiology Clinic in Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital every three months. She also requires blood work at least once a month and immune-suppressants for the rest of her life to ensure she doesn’t reject her heart.

“Our experience at the hospital has been excellent. Since JPCH opened its doors we have frequented the outpatient and emergency departments and have also been to the lab countless times. We have been impressed with the facilities and the staff. The lab is our most frequented destination, as Laura requires a lot of blood work and we feel very much at home in the new rooms,” Sarah said.

Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Charissa Pockett, Kristina Konchak, JPCHF Director, Major Gifts, Karen and David Holst

While the original plans for Saskatchewan’s children’s hospital didn’t call for a cath lab, that changed thanks to a generous $3 million gift by the David and Karen Holst Family Foundation. Their generous gift announced in 2014 has helped support the sophisticated equipment and space for pediatric heart patients.

With a high patient volume, the cardiology unit is one of the busiest divisions within the department of pediatrics. There are approximately 3,000 kids in Saskatchewan living with congenital heart defects. The pediatric cardiology team is based at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon and provides services at the Regina General Hospital every week to treat young patients in southern Saskatchewan.

Donate today to help ensure that Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital has all the equipment, enhancements, programs and technology it needs into the future.


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