Considering she was born with only half a working heart, it’s amazing to think about how far Hayley McArthur has come in the last seven years. She loves swimming, gymnastics and playing with her little sister. But it was a long, frightening road to get to this point.
At 20 weeks, Hayley’s mom Donna found out her baby had a heart defect. An ultrasound showed the right side of Hayley’s heart worked normally, but the left didn’t. That resulted in her oxygenated blood mixing with her non-oxygenated blood, which would cause complications as she grew.
“You feel like you’ve done something wrong,” Donna recalls. “There’s the excitement of becoming a new parent and then there are complications. How do you prepare and give your baby the best outcome possible?”
There was a chance Hayley would need heart surgery immediately following birth. Fortunately, part of the defect corrected itself before she was born. As a baby, Hayley regularly visited the pediatric outpatient unit at Regina General Hospital, where her oxygen levels and heart functions were monitored closely. At six months old, she received the first of two surgeries to help her heart function properly.
When Hayley was three years old, she received the second surgery, followed by regular appointments at the pediatric outpatient unit.
By this time, the McArthur family was on a first name basis with the team at the pediatric outpatient unit, who Donna calls “outstanding.”
“They know your child and care for them, especially when you show up in an emergency situation,” she adds.
They truly care about the kids who come through their doors.
The follow-up appointments eventually lessened. Today, Hayley requires just one annual check-up for her heart.
“That’s a forever thing for Hayley, but there are no plans for further surgery,” says Donna.
Her heart is functioning as it should today. If you didn’t see her chest scar, you wouldn’t think she was different from any other little girl.
“The pediatric outpatient unit at Regina General Hospital is critical in caring for our youth, from vulnerable babies to teenagers,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “With ongoing support from the community, we will continue to support the best possible care for our children, right here at home.”