September 4, 2007

World First for Pediatric Cardiology

HSC Doctors Perform Innovative Procedure on Two Manitoba Children

Kyla Lamb
Kyla Lamb

Frankie Elia
Frankie Elia

Dr. Abhay Divekar

Dr. Abhay Divekar

Photos: Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Kyla Lamb certainly has a story for the record books. The ten-year-old has become the first child in the world to have a dissolvable plug implanted into her heart.

HSC Pediatric Cardiologists Dr. Reeni Soni and Dr. Abhay Divekar performed the ground-breaking procedure at the Children's Hospital on August 23. Just hours after Kyla's surgery, 16-year-old Frankie Elia became the second pediatric patient to ever to undergo the procedure.

Both children were born with only one functioning heart chamber as opposed to four chambers. As a result, they had below-normal levels of oxygen in their blood, which limited their physical activities and increased their chances of suffering a stroke. Kyla and Frankie underwent a series of surgeries to correct the defect, but it was during the last of the surgeries, that the plug, known as the BioSTAR, was implanted to seal a hole in their hearts that had been previously created to improve blood flow. The plug, made largely from pig intestine, dissolves almost completely, allowing the heart to create tissue to heal itself. What remains is a small inter-connected wire made of metal.

Dr. Soni, Section Head of Pediatric Cardiology, said the dissolvable implants are akin to dissolvable stitches. "This means that 95 percent of the implant will actually dissolve within a few months."

In July, the procedure was performed on four adults in Toronto, but Kyla and Frankie are the first two pediatric patients in the world to benefit from the device, recently approved by Health Canada.

This landmark procedure is another first for the HSC Pediatric Cardiology team. Earlier this year, the team of cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses and technologists, garnered national attention when they performed the first Canadian pediatric ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) transport that literally saved the lives of two children.

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