The family of a newborn baby needing a heart transplant is relieved their son won’t have to undergo the procedure outside of British Columbia.
Kelly Airth, 26, and his wife Samantha, 24, travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver with their son Miles, but were told they would have to go to Edmonton or as far away as Toronto to get the procedure done because BC Children's Hospital has no official infant heart transplant program.
Today, the Airths received word the hospital will make an exception.
Every year, BC Children's Hospital sends six to eight infants out of province for heart transplants, and performs only one when a baby can’t be moved.
"We evaluate every patient case-by-case," said BC Children’s Hospital president Larry Gold. "And certainly the medical and the family situation."
A proposal to start a program was submitted to the province's health ministry in the spring — but the hospital says it is still waiting for an answer.
"This is a terrible thing for families to go through," said B.C.'s health minister Terry Lake. "But if we're going to offer that service, we have to make sure that it's sustainable, that we have the critical mass necessary to provide that kind of a service."
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, two people under the age of 18 died waiting for a heart transplant in B.C last year.
"The best move for a critically ill child to make is no move at all," said Kelly Airth, who expressed relief that their six-day-old son will get the care he needs close to home.
"It's obviously a victory for our family. The bigger picture is that we're hoping Miles' case will be a turning point and that more families in B.C., when it is an option, can have it done in B.C. at Children's Hospital."
Baby Miles now must wait until a heart his size becomes available for transplant.
"I hope he gets to hear that story," his father said. "And if not him, I hope other families in B.C. get to hear that story, and get to live that story."