High-tech heart help for kids

FIXING HEARTS: Three-year-old heart patient Campbell Andrew checks out a cardiac ultrasound machine with paediatric cardiac surgeon Kirsten Finucane, left, Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson and mum Renee Andrew.
Photo: JAMES ENSING-TRUSSELL
FIXING HEARTS: Three-year-old heart patient Campbell Andrew checks out a cardiac ultrasound machine with paediatric cardiac surgeon Kirsten Finucane, left, Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson and mum Renee Andrew.

A new machine at Starship children’s hospital is helping children’s hearts and reducing repeat surgeries.

A transesophageal echocardiography machine was recently purchased as part of Barfoot & Thompson’s ongoing support of the Starship Foundation and the heart unit at Starship hospital.

The high-tech equipment allows doctors to check if the repair to the heart has been successful. They can carry out any repairs before the child leaves the operating theatre.

Director of Starship’s children’s heart unit Dr Tom Gentles says previously doctors had to run tests after surgery.

"This not only saves our young patients and their family the added stress of further surgery, but also frees up important surgical space for other patients to use," he says.

Since the new machine was bought in May, between two and six children a week have used it.

Three-year-old Campbell Andrew is one of them.

Campbell, who lives in Christchurch, fell sick in July with a high fever.

He was sent to Christchurch Hospital for tests and doctors discovered a soft murmur in his heart. An echocardiogram, a special ultrasound of the heart, revealed an infection in his mitral valve.

Campbell and his parents were on a plane to Auckland within the hour. Campbell went into surgery two days later to have his heart valve fixed. A transesophageal echocardiography was done in the operating theatre and showed the repair to be a success.

After two weeks at Starship, Campbell is now happy, healthy and back home in Christchurch.

– Jessie Colquhoun is an AUT journalism student

East And Bays Courier