Jade, a little girl with a big heart
Jade was born in Val d’Or on April 17, 2007. Everything seemed normal, and within minutes of a cesarean delivery, mother Stéphanie cradled her newborn in her arms. The pediatrician, however, noticed the baby’s bluish complexion. She was immediately placed in an incubator to increase her oxygen supply but her condition hardly improved. Tests showed that her lungs were normal. But what about her little heart? The results of an echocardiogram marked the beginning of their ordeal.
Before parting with her infant daughter, Stéphanie cuddled her again for a few moments. Baby Jade was returned to an incubator then whisked by air ambulance to The Children’s. Jade’s dad, Patrick, set out by car immediately. “As I headed towards Montreal, my spirits were at rock bottom. I sobbed. I called my dad. I was simply overwhelmed. My foot was getting a bit heavy on the accelerator. Then I thought of how much Jade and Stéphanie were going to need me. I pulled myself together, and eased my foot off the gas,” recounts Patrick.
The very next day, Jade was seen by Dr. Adrian Dancea, Head of the Department of Cardiology. He explained to Patrick that Jade had been diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot and that surgery was absolutely necessary. Jade was put on medication in preparation for surgery. “Despite the fact that we were devastated, Dr. Dancea and his team inspired confidence. We just knew we were in capable hands,” relates Patrick.
Released from hospital just three days after her c-section, Stéphanie immediately flew to Montreal. With Patrick at her side, she watched their little Jade being wheeled away for open-heart surgery. As she recalls, “Dr. Dancea had been most reassuring; success rates gave us hope. Dr. Christo Tchervenkov was going to perform the surgery. We were as confident as anyone could be under such circumstances.” The surgery was successful but several complications hindered the healing process, so much so that Jade spent the first seven weeks of her life at The Children’s. Five of those weeks were spent in the neonatal intensive care unit.
At the age of five months, Jade faced yet another challenge: she had difficulty turning onto her stomach. When she managed to do so, it made her cry. Her physiotherapist noticed that she turned blue when lying in that position. Once again, her family was shaken when she had to be readmitted to the emergency at The Children’s.
After various tests, Dr. Dancea explained to Stéphanie and Patrick that Jade’s left pulmonary artery was atrophied. To keep the artery open a catheter would need to be used to insert a stent. This time, Dr. Dancea would perform the procedure. The beneficial effects were apparent the very next day. “While Stéphanie and I were watching the movie Happy Feet with Jade, she started to laugh during one of the scenes. Our hearts melted. This was the first time Jade had laughed in her entire life! She had hardly even smiled before. At that moment, we felt that everything was going to be alright,” Patrick recounts.
Since this procedure, Jade has been in very good shape. Last June, she underwent a similar procedure with positive results. Because she is growing, Dr. Dancea simply inserted a bigger stent. Her parents know that in a few years she will need surgery again. Her left pulmonary artery is smaller that the right, and she will eventually need a pulmonary valve. Until then, their pretty little girl can do everything other children her age can do. Although Jade’s parents were worried for her in the beginning, they have learned to let her take things in stride. “She’s always up and about doing things. Sometimes, we’d like her to slow down, but nothing seems to stop her,” says Patrick laughing. Little Jade’s heart is letting her live her life!