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Meet Saskatchewan’s First Pediatric Lung Doctor

LIS_6287If a child in Saskatchewan is faced with a breathing problem they will mostly likely come face to face with Dr. Darryl Adamko at some point during their care.  Adamko is Saskatchewan’s first pediatric lung doctor.

Respirology disease, according to Adamko, is the leading cause of why children usually first come to a hospital.  The range of problems that fall under this category is vast, anything as serious as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or bronchitis to general breathing issues such as swallowing, snoring or sleep problems.  With the province’s first pediatric sleep lab planned for the new maternal and children’s hospital, Adamko says the role this unit is expected to play within the facility is a big one and he stresses that ongoing support is critical.

“There are always things that need to be built and upgraded, these aren’t bonuses, these are standard of care types of things that you must have, so organizations like the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan are essential,” says Adamko, who has worked and trained at both Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Since his return to his hometown of Saskatoon nearly five years ago, part of his role has been to build the pediatric respirology program in anticipation of the opening of the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan. A second pediatric respirologist, Dr. Ram Natarajan who trained in Milwaukee and most recently worked in Australia, joined Adamko in November. Plans are underway to have a third doctor in place by the time the new maternal and children’s hospital opens in 2019.

Over the last three years, the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan has funded asthma research that Adamko hopes will lead to a better test for young asthma patients, as well as portable sleep study monitors for children as young as two, a bronchoscope and sleep apnea equipment for the Pediatric Pulmonary Clinic. Most recently, the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan has funded two new Smart Monitors for Pediatric Sleep Disorder studies. With sleep studies running seven days per week with a 6-8 month wait list, the existing older monitors will be used to expand service to Regina and Prince Albert.

“There was nowhere else to get support from, you wouldn’t be able to have a bronchoscopy service without this equipment,” explains Adamko. “And the sleep lab that we have now, which will continue to develop and grow, allows us to monitor kids that I wouldn’t have otherwise, is thanks to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.”

Despite his busy schedule Adamko says the reason why he specializes in respirology is simple; he likes the system.

 “I like respiratory disease as a system and compared to other disease I think children with respiratory diseases are nice to work with, and in a lot of times they can get better, you can often fix them and that’s what I like.   You can make a big difference and their quality of life is a lot better.”

As a doctor he says he would rather work with kids than adults.

“They want to get better they want to play, that’s how they are motivated.  And it’s their fun loving attitude that motivates you to go to work.”

Still Adamko says he wouldn’t have it any other way, as he loves what he does, and he loves trying to help his patients every day.

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