|When open-heart surgery began on Dec. 3, several doctors brought their iPhones in to record the historic moment. Dr. Guy Fradet, now medical director of Interior cardiac surgery and Interior Health's cardiac program, performed quadruple bypass surgery on Luke Brockholm, 54, a Penticton Airport maintenance worker who lives in Okanagan Falls.|
Pediatrics is done at the coast and Interior Health won't be doing transplants any time soon, the Interior Health board learned Tuesday.
"When you do surgery, it's like flying a plane: it shouldn't be an adventure every time you do it. Which means you need a critical mass to do it," explained Dr. Guy Fradet, medical director of cardiac surgery and the IH cardiac program.
"Right now in B.C., there is maybe
15-20 heart transplants a year - about one a month. It doesn't make any sense to split them (to different hospitals). If things change to more than 100, then maybe we could look at it. That being said, we have everything short of transplants."
One month ago, a 54-year-old man suffering from a heart attack was brought into the Kelowna General emergency department by ambulance, recalled Fradet. The patient had two cardiac arrests, couldn't be resuscitated and the cardiac team was called in.
"Last November, that guy was dead. They would have stopped. We put him on the artificial heart and lung (machine). His heart was not working; it was totally still. We waited for two or three days to decide if the brain was OK because we thought maybe we could send him to the coast and do a transplant," said Fradet.
"But the heart started to recover and by the Monday, we took everything out and the guy went home two weeks later with a normal heart function. Those are the types of things that are now possible."
Fradet was hired in March 2010 and commuted to Kelowna until last August while he continued to serve as acute treatment department head at Vancouver General. He joked he has been so busy in the Okanagan, he's only played one game of golf so far and didn't do any downhill skiing this winter.
During his 30-minute presentation to the board, he explained what heart disease is and that "many types of things can go wrong with the heart" - from problems with the blood flow and valves to electrical problems (pacemaker) to a lack of power, i.e. heart failure.
The Interior Health cardiac program has come online in three phases. The first was angioplasties in 2009: using small balloons and stents to open blocked arteries. About 1,000 angioplasties are now done annually at KGH.
The second was opening two temporary operating rooms in the hospital's Strathcona building for heart valve repair and bypass surgery. The first open-heart surgery - a quadruple bypass - was done on Dec. 3. The goal was 150 open-heart operations by the end of the fiscal year on March 31.
"We're likely going to finish at 160 or beyond because we've had quite a bit of emergency work in the evening and on weekends," Fradet told the board.
The $367-million Interior Heart and Surgical Centre - with 15 operating rooms, an intensive care unit, medical tool sterilization room, and a large team of cardiologists, anesthetists, nurses, radiologists, respirologists and support workers - is scheduled to open in mid-2015.
Last week, the team met with provincial transport authority to plan the transfer of those on mechanical heart support to the coast, i.e., what type of plane is necessary or whether the Interior's new twin-engine helicopter service is best.
Even Kamloops doctors were not aware of the cardiac team's capabilities and sent one patient to Vancouver General instead of Kelowna on Saturday, a Kamloops' doctor admitted at the board meeting..
Afterwards, Fradet told The Daily Courier: "I am very happy with our progress. We were lucky we recruited very good people, amazing people committed to the program. "So far, it's been a great journey. It's a bit tiring because it's quite busy. We had to start small. Hopefully, over the next year or so, we'll expand and it will become a bit easier."