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CHEO’s new heart lab needs your help — CP on board to match your donation!

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) keeps thousands of little hearts beating every day, and none need more care than those in the cardiology department.

According to 2014 numbers, there are approximately 257,000 Canadians living with a congenital heart defect (CHD) and a third of them are children. Having come a long way in the last 50 years, the mortality rate in children born with CHD is quite low but health complications, regular monitoring, and multiple surgeries still make for a trying childhood.

“Often the tip-off is a heart murmur, an extra noise,” said CHEO’s Dr. Suzie Lee, who said CHD can be determined as early as 18 to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. As a full-time pediatric cardiologist at CHEO since 2004, Lee has treated CHD in babies, toddlers, and even teens in her catheterization lab since 2006.

“Cardiac catheterization is any procedure where we put tubes and wires through the blood vessels into the heart,” she said. “In this way, we can gain information such as direct pressure measurements, we can take pictures of anatomy that’s not well seen by other methods such as ultrasound, and we can perform interventions such as closing holes in the heart or enlarging arteries that are too small.”

To diagnose and treat CHD with as little intrusion as possible, CHEO uses a suite of intervention radiology equipment that is now close to 10 years old. Canadian Pacific (CP) is taking up the cause to outfit a new lab by helping to raise $1.8 million to redesign the space that will house specialized equipment and offer pediatric-specific training.

Linked to this fundraising effort is this year’s CP Women’s Open from August 21-27 at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. From now until the end of the LGPA event, CP will match individual donations to a maximum of $5,000 and for fundraiser event donations up to $10,000. Doubling donations will quickly put a dent in the almost $2 million price tag to offer less invasive procedures and shorter hospital visits with close to real-time 3D imaging.

Nine-going-on-10-year-old Nolan Fobert was born with a complex CHD that had several arteries connected to only one heart ventricle and a large hole between two chambers. Photo: Courtesy of CHEO
Nine-going-on-10-year-old Nolan Fobert was born with a complex CHD that had several arteries connected to only one heart ventricle and a large hole between two chambers. Photo: Courtesy of CHEO

With the new equipment, higher quality x-ray images will also result in the lowest possible radiation, which is key for patients who make multiple visits. One such patient is Nolan Fobert, a nine-going-on-10-year-old who was born with a complex CHD that had several arteries connected to only one heart ventricle and a large hole between two chambers.

“His pulmonary artery was replaced with a large unobstructed connection, however his branch pulmonary arteries remained extremely small,” said Dr. Lee. “No further surgery could be done to close the hole in his heart until they could be enlarged.”

Nolan's before and after x-rays: his arteries remained extremely small (left) and the hole in his heart could not be closed until they could be enlarged. He was brought to the catheterization laboratory for five procedures over several years to enlarge and stent his pulmonary arteries, significantly improving their size (right). Photos: courtesy of CHEO
Nolan’s before and after x-rays: his arteries remained extremely small (left) and the hole in his heart could not be closed until they could be enlarged. He was brought to the catheterization laboratory for five procedures over several years to enlarge and stent his pulmonary arteries, significantly improving their size (right). Photos: courtesy of CHEO

Over several years, Nolan visited the catheterization laboratory for five procedures to enlarge his arteries with a catheter balloon and then a stent, a small tube to strengthen an artery. In April 2011, he had definitive surgery to normalize his blood circulation and oxygen saturation.

Another cardiology patient who had two open heart surgeries before he turned two was Zander Zatylny. The seven-year-old poster boy for the CP Has Heart campaign has had eight stents in his heart to regulate blood flow, and his repeat visits are necessary to maintaining his health.

“Some kids are born with narrowing in their arteries,” said Dr. Lee. “Children who have had surgery still need things fixed up because arteries that are too small often need repeat visits to the catheterization lab.”

The new lab will permit for less surgery and less radiation for safer diagnoses and treatment thanks to the CHEO and CP team-up. With CP matching your donation, there is no better time to help the kids at CHEO. Please donate today.