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Berlin heart recipient, Parker Seely, 15 months and his mother Jessica Seely at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton. (John Ulan/John Ulan/Epic Photography)
Berlin heart recipient, Parker Seely, 15 months and his mother Jessica Seely at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton. (John Ulan/John Ulan/Epic Photography)

Science

The rivalry for little hearts and big minds Add to ...

The technology is not without its complications. While Chace waits, 15-month-old Parker Seely is recovering across the hall, a scar running down the middle of his chest with stitches closing two incisions on either side, where the Berlin tubes once were.

In the Stollery and on the Berlin since February, the young boy received his heart transplant on May 31, but had two strokes while waiting, as his blood kept clotting in the Berlin Heart's plastic tubes.

"It was either that or we'd be in ICU, and he'd be strapped to a bed. He couldn't do anything," said Ms. Seely, 27.

"It is life-saving. They need it. The kids need it in order to, you know ..." the mother says quietly, pausing, "stay around."

The question will now be whether Vancouver goes ahead with a small-scale program, like the two in Montreal, or if it mounts a recruiting effort. With relatively few Canadian patients, another major centre might mean some doctors going months without performing a procedure.

"After six months [without a new patient] you pretty much start from scratch," Dr. Buchholz says. "It's much easier, of course, if you have ongoing patients to keep the quality [of surgery]"

Ms. Campsall and her husband, Anthony Herman, have had to rent an apartment in Edmonton and will rack up between $15,000 and $20,000 in expenses while their son is at the Stollery.

It would have been more convenient for them to get Chace treatment in Vancouver, near their home, family, and dog, Nakita. Like any parents, they wanted world-class care for their son. "I have mixed feelings on it. Yes, it would be nicer to have the treatment closer to home," Ms. Campsall says.

"It's irritating that we have this great hospital [in B.C.] and I have to travel to Edmonton or Toronto," Mr. Herman says.

But, his wife adds, "What's the point of every province doing so few [procedures]when one or two provinces can have the experts?"

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