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Pediatric Cardiovascular Campaign

In 2013, the Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery program at Sanford Children’s Hospital advanced significantly when Dr. Edgard Bendaly joined the medical team. Dr. Bendaly, interventional and pediatric cardiologist, conducts procedures on patients born with heart defects who before had to travel out of state to receive this type of care.

“Before I came to Sanford, the congenital cardiac catheterization laboratory was fundamental and only the very basic diagnostic procedures were done,” Dr. Bendaly said. “Most children with congenital heart defects were sent outside of Sanford.”

Dr. Bendaly specializes in catheter-based treatments and procedures to fix structural heart diseases and, more specifically, congenital heart defects. He has already conducted multiple procedures in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Sanford USD Medical Center. These include using different devices to close holes and abnormal vessels in the heart, or related to the heart, as well as dilating obstructed cardiac valves and vessels to relieve the narrowing.

“When patients have a heart disease they are born with, pediatric cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons possess the specialized training needed to care for these patients at any age, even as adults,” he said.

The Sanford Health Foundation began the Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery campaign in 2012 so pediatric heart patients can be cared for right here at Sanford Children’s. Chad Rohlfs, director of development, said generous donors have given $1.4 so far in the $3 million campaign.

“This special program can only move forward with philanthropic support,” Rohlfs said. “The gifts we have secured to date are being used to purchase specialized equipment and build the program infrastructure moving forward.”

Adding Dr. Bendaly and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment to build a fully-functional congenital cardiac catheterization laboratory were the first steps in developing the Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery program at Sanford Children’s. This has already benefited a number of families in the region, including Andrew and Mylee Radtke and their 4-year-old daughter, Shaelynn Haar, of Aberdeen.

During Shaelynn’s wellness check-up in the fall of 2013, the Radtke’s family doctor heard a heart murmur and recommended they take her to a specialist at Sanford Children’s. Shaelynn had a cardiac ultrasound and was found to have an atrial septal defect (ASD), which is a gap in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart.

The pediatric cardiology team determined Shaelynn needed an ASD closure. Since Dr. Bendaly was able to perform the procedure in the cardiac catheterization lab at Sanford USD Medical Center, the family didn’t have to travel outside of South Dakota. Shaelynn and her family returned home to Aberdeen the day after the procedure.

Unfortunately, not all congenital heart defects can be fixed in the cath lab and many require open-heart surgery, a service we are working to build for pediatric patients at Sanford. Dr. Bendaly thinks it is important to keep the patients close to home.

“Usually when I am consulting with parents whose child has a congenital heart disease and needs a surgical intervention, they take it well,” Dr. Bendaly said. “But once they realize this means leaving their family and friends and traveling hundreds of miles away is when they actually start crying.”

The Radtke family was grateful for the opportunity to receive quality health care close to their home, family and friends here at Sanford Medical Center. “It was a relief,” Andrew said. “I’ve got family that could visit rather than flying in or driving a couple of hundred miles. They are close enough to be here.”

Donors to the Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery fund help provide state-of-the-art equipment and support highly trained specialists, like Dr. Bendaly, so patients with congenital heart defects can receive care close to home.

Dr. Bendaly believes that what’s even more important than treating the disorder is to keep families together. “It’s more about preserving the family unit and to keep our patients close to their families and friends,” he said.

For more information, please call Chad Rohlfs at (605) 312-6744 or Amy Bruns at (605) 312-6742.

Posted Date: June 2014