Donors Help Provide Tools to Treat Young Heart Patients

Like most first-time parents, Dave and Anne Pankratz of Marion, S.D., fell in love with their daughter upon seeing her at birth. They named her Madison.

“Out came this beautiful pink little creature,” Anne Pankratz said. “She had 10 little toes and 10 little fingers, and she was perfect.”

But doctors had other news to share.

“He said to us, ‘Kids, I think we need to talk,’” she said. “One in 1,000 babies is born with a heart defect. Maddie was born with five.”

According to Dr. Theresa Stamato, Pediatric Cardiologist at Sanford Children’s, Madison has issues with vessels and how the pumping chambers are related; she has some narrowed valves and some holes in her heart.

“She was just this little tiny thing. How could something so wrong be going on?” Pankratz said.

Madison had her first heart surgery at 10 months old and a second one exactly five years later, both in Ann Arbor, Mich. “The day I will never forget is the day she had surgery for the second time,” Pankratz said. “She was so calm and she looked at both Dave and me and she said, ‘Mamma, don’t worry. I’m going to be just fine.’”

Madison had a third heart surgery in December in Ann Arbor to deal with an issue called supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, which is a rapid heart rhythm originating above the ventricular tissue. Her heart rate has been as high as 280. In addition, her mitral valve isn’t working properly, which will require more surgery.

Pankratz is confident Madison will receive the best medical attention at Sanford Children’s. She said the doctors and nurses perform like they were born to heal children. “We feel so fortunate to live so close to a phenomenal medical facility,” she said. “We never doubt – ever – what kind of care Maddie will get.”

Statistics show that each year in the United States, one percent of newborns are born with congenital heart disease. At Sanford, that equates to approximately 130 babies, most of whom must travel out of state for life saving surgical treatment, just like Madison did.

To help meet these needs, a new pediatric cardiovascular surgery program is being created at Sanford Children’s Hospital. When Madison needs another heart surgery as a teenager, she won’t have to travel further than Sioux Falls. The Sanford Health Foundation established the Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery Fund to help create and support this special program.

The Pankratz family also received assistance with travel for the heart surgeries from Children's Miracle Network. In addition, different equipment used during Madison’s hospital and clinic visits at Sanford was purchased with Children’s Miracle Network funds.

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Posted Date: April 2013

Donors Help Provide Tools to Treat Young Heart Patients

Dave and Anne Pankratz of Marion, S.D., fell in love with their daughter upon seeing her at birth.