Care from the Heart

They got a startling diagnosis after a routine ultrasound. But they were never alone on their journey.

Weeks before her baby was born, Elsbeth Fielding didn’t know whether she was going to have a boy or a girl, but she knew she’d only be able to hold her baby for less than a minute.

“That’s what I was prepared for, but I actually got to hold him for a few minutes after he came out,” Elsbeth said. “And then his oxygen levels were low so they took him right away for a catheter procedure.”

Her baby, Reed, was born with a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries, where the connections to the heart are swapped — oxygen-rich blood flows from the lungs, through the heart, and back to the lungs instead of to the rest of the body.

Elsbeth and her husband Regan, who live in Smithers, learned about the condition in a routine ultrasound at 21 weeks.

“We knew he would need surgery a few days after he was born,” said Elsbeth, who came to Vancouver three weeks before her due date and met the team who would perform the surgery. “And we knew with this defect that it would be just one operation and he’d be done.”

Elsbeth met with surgeon Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi and the Children’s Heart Centre team — the doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists who care for kids with the most severe cardiac disease, before and after surgery. She got the information she needed to stay calm.

“I never felt rushed by anyone,” Elsbeth said. “If you need to spend two hours asking questions, they’re going to sit there.”

When Reed returned from his catheter procedure, he spent the next two days in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) — and Elsbeth was prepared.

“I’d already been to the PICU on a tour before he was born and saw parents sitting reading next to their babies,” she said. “I was able to hold him the whole time.”

 At three days old, Reed had open-heart surgery. And when he came out, the nurses explained the purpose of every tube and wire he was connected to.

“They make everything really clear and simple so you really understand — they asked if I wanted to see the wires going in and the bandages and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Elsbeth said. “We were just so relieved that it’s done and he did well — he should have the exact same quality of life as any other kid.”

« Explore more articles Help us spread
the word.

Taylin's Tenacity

After 14 brain surgeries, Taylin proves she never gives up.

Read more

The Promise of Genomics

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute is transforming the lives of patients and their families.

Read more