The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 21, 2009

Tots' hearts healed simply

'U' procedure avoids open heart surgeries



Jenna’s treatment would be identical. But on the day of her surgery, they got a rare dose of panic when, 20 minutes after it began, people began leaving the operating room.

“We were worried it didn’t work and they were going to have to do open-heart surgery,” Mark Haman said.

Instead, it was good news: The surgery was successful.

Jenna’s case was potentially more serious. Compared to Josie, there was a greater chance that the device wouldn’t work and she’d need open-heart surgery. So the hospital was prepared with a unique, hybrid approach: hope to be able to patch the hole with the minimally invasive procedure, but prepare for the possibility of having to do open-heart surgery by having a full team of doctors standing by, ready to go should the situation call for it.

“When they talked about open heart,” Lori Haman said, “hearing all the details was kind of overwhelming.”

At most hospitals, a failed catheter fix could mean taking the patient back to recovery and scheduling another date for the more serious surgery.

“It's a one-of-a-kind facility in Minnesota,” said Ryan Davenport, a spokesman for the hospital.

The only trouble that resulted from the procedures, the parents say, was the difficulty in getting their daughters to remain calm and still after the procedure. Doctors want patients to remain motionless for four hours.

Josie and Jenna, their parents (and any observers) will say, are anything but motionless.

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