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Baby makes medical history with first two-part heart operation at state-of-the-art Edmonton facility

Topher Seguin / Postmedia News

EDMONTON – Baby Isaac, cutest dude in the room, finally opens his eyes, fidgets and yawns, blissfully unaware he’s just made medical history.

The vertical scar on his tiny chest is fading rapidly, along with the big worries of his parents, Calgarians Matt and Shandra Tymchuk, who just can’t stop smiling at their wobbly four-month old.

In October, at the tender age of 16 days, Isaac became the first baby in Western Canada to receive a critical two-part heart operation at the Mazankowski Heart Institute’s new “hybrid” operating room.

The combined procedures — heart surgery and a specialized catheter technique on a weak left ventricle — improved the chances Isaac’s heart will be normal and avoided putting the newborn on an invasive heart-lung machine.

Topher Seguin / Postmedia NewsIn October, at the tender age of 16 days, Isaac (pictured with his parents, Matt and Shandra Tymchuk) became the first baby in Western Canada to receive a critical two-part heart operation at the Mazankowski Heart Institute’s new “hybrid” operating room.

The dual-equipped operating room allows two different specialists to work on a patient at the same time. It just opened last spring.

“We’re really optimistic,” said Shandra, 31, adding she’s grateful for the wonderful treatment at the Mazankowski.

“This operating room made it possible. To think, a year ago, we would not have had this option.”

Truth be known, it’s the second time little Isaac has been at the cutting edge of medical care in Canada.

Shandra was 21 weeks pregnant when she found out in a routine ultrasound that her baby had a congenital heart defect with the left ventricle of his heart not growing.

She flew to Toronto for a very new procedure in utero to help save her baby’s heart. It was just the 13th time this procedure has been done in Canada.

About four months later, Isaac was born at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and days later he was whisked over to the Stollery Childrens Hospital next door to the Mazankowski centre at the University of Alberta Hospital.

Sandra and Matt knew their baby would need more help soon or he would risk losing half his heart. But they also knew full open-heart surgery would be very high risk for their newborn.

Topher Seguin / Postmedia News

Topher Seguin / Postmedia NewsMatt and Shandra Tymchuk embrace their three month old son, Isaac, at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute on Jan. 22, 2015.

“We looked at all the options and we knew this one at the Mazankowski had the least risk and the best chance of a quick recovery,” said Matt Tymchuk, 32.

Cardiac surgeon Mohammed Al Aklabi opened his tiny chest and put small bands on the arteries to regulate the flow of blood out of the heart to the lungs.

Then Dr. Andrea Wan used a special technique to put a stent into the weakened left side of the heart.

“Thanks to the new operating room, we could eliminate the need to put a two-week- old boy on a heart-lung machine,” she said.

Topher Seguin / Postmedia News

Topher Seguin / Postmedia NewsMultiple photos are stitched together to give a sweeping view of the Cardiac hybrid OR at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute on Jan. 22, 2015.

Al Aklabi said the surgery has another advantage. “It buys us time to see how Isaac’s heart will grow,” and determine what further repairs are needed.

In a few months, Baby Isaac will head back for more surgery, but he’ll be older and better able to tolerate the procedures.

The unique hybrid operating room was equipped by $6.6 million in donations from the community, said Joyce Law, who runs the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation. “Our donors in this community are very generous,” said Law.

They will all be pleased to see that “we are doing the most advanced procedures on adults and our smallest patients,” Law added.

Smith ignites from bench as Cougars fall to USF

The Cougars returned to Hofheinz Wednesday night to fall to the South Florida Bulls 71-55 in the first game of the new semester.

Led by junior guard Alecia Smith’s 22 points off the bench, the Cougars fought hard from start to finish, trimming the lead to seven points at half and finishing the game on an 11-2 run.

“But we did bring it to them tonight; great effort on our end,” head coach Ronald Hughey said. “(If we) make a few more shots, we are right there.”

The Cougar defense did a solid job of holding the Bulls to 2-10 from the 3-point line, but couldn’t stop the powerful offense as they shot 52.6 percent from the field.

Smith provided a spark off the bench, going 6-7 in three-point attempts and had her first 20-point game of the season.

“I’m just trying to do whatever my team needs,” Smith said. “It’s been a rollercoaster, up and down, up and down, and (Hughey has) been saying to be consistent. Team first, so I just think about my team and it just clicked when I came on the floor.”

Junior guard Jessieka Palmer and junior forward Marche’ Amerson each scored 10 points, joining Smith as the three Cougars to finish in double-digit scoring.

The Cougars look to keep improving in AAC play Saturday at 2 p.m. as they travel to Memphis in their first contest between the two since the AAC tournament last season.

“I really think that with that energy and effort and that heart starting to be more exposed now, they’ll really come around and we’ll start to straighten those things out,” Hughey said.

sports@thedailycougar.com


Smith ignites from bench as Cougars fall to USF” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar