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New Portable Ultrasound Machine Makes Travel to Northern Alberta Centres Easier

In the past the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s “portable” cardiovascular ultrasound machine needed it’s own seat on the plan when it travelled to northern Alberta.

It was the size of a small fridge.

Those trips will be a lot easier now thanks to an $80,000 donation from Treasure Life, the Evan Ty Jenkins Pediatric Research Foundation, which bought the hospital a Vivid q Ultrasound system.

The size of a ‘90s-era laptop, the Vivid q won’t require an extra seat.

With limited space in the Stollery, the machine’s portability is useful even when it’s not travelling, as it can be taken directly to the patients’ bedsides, said Dr. Yashu Coe, a pediatric cardiologist at the hospital.

On Monday, Andreina Castro brought her 13-year-old twin sons, Eduardo and Felipe Esis-Castro, to the hospital for cardiac checkups.

In 2007, Eduardo had open-heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart. The twins also have a condition called neurofibromatosis.

“It looks like coffee stains on the skin,” said Coe, noting the condition can also affect the brain, although so far the twins have been OK.

While it’s rare for the condition to affect the heart, they need to monitor it, Coe said.

It’s a checkup that would usually happen in Fort McMurray, but with recovery efforts underway in the fire-ravaged city, Fort McMurray patients had their appointments in Edmonton.

The hospital’s new ultrasound machine allows doctors to get a good view of the structure and function of the heart, said Coe.

It also shows blood flow, which doctors can use to estimate the pressure on the heart. This can negate the need for a more invasive catheter procedure, he said.

Before the portable machines, patients would have had to travel into the city for appointments, costing time and money.

Now the machine travels to clinics in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, High Level, Red Deer and Yellowknife, where it’s used to examine 20 to 30 patients at each clinic.

On top of donations like this one, Treasure Life also makes an annual donation of $20,000 for monitoring equipment that families can use at home.

Charlene and Rick Jenkins, president and director of Treasure Life, lost both a child and a grandson to heart conditions.

The organization was named for their grandson Evan, who was born with a cardiac condition and died at the age of seven.

The foundation relies on Coe, who was also Evan’s cardiologist, to provide advice about which technologies will make the greatest difference for children and families affected by heart disease, Charlene said.

Published June 20, 2016, Edmonton Journal