Bringing Heart to the Game of Golf
Prince George, B.C. – How valuable is B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver? The answer may well be found in another question: What value could you possibly place on the life of your child?
And how does this tie in with a golf tournament?
Incredible advancements in technology provide information which gives medical practitioners a crucial leg up on the health of an unborn child, however it is not until birth day, and sometimes beyond that, that you know exactly how healthy your child is. For Jacquie and Joe Laquerre, birth day four years ago was a double blessing. However a critical twist lay just ahead.
“When my daughters were born, we have twins (Allison and Mya) who are now four,” says Jacquie, “and five days after our daughters were born our daughter Allison went into medical distress. They discovered that she didn’t have any femoral pulses in her legs, which often indicates that there is something seriously wrong with their heart.”
Jacquie explains that Allison “was born with a coarctation (narrowing) of the aorta.” Her understanding of it is that “when babies are in utero there is something called a PDA ductus that takes oxygen from the mom to the baby. Once the baby is born, five to seven days after, that PDA duct closes off and normally the heart works properly. But because her aorta was mal-formed her oxygen was closed off, so basically she was suffocating because her heart wasn’t formed properly.”
Jacquie had developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy which resulted in her and the two babies being placed in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at University Hospital of Northern BC. She says “even though they were very healthy at first, all of a sudden I woke up and I could hear her frothing. She was struggling to breathe and so I went and got one of the nurses and they immediately recognized there was something seriously wrong.”
“It wasn’t until the pediatrician came in and did a thorough exam of her did they discover that she didn’t have those femoral pulses and she needed more specialized care that Children’s could provide.”
At that point things accelerated rapidly. “What ended up happening is they brought the Critical Care team up from Children’s, they flew them up, they were up within two hours so it was very fast. We were lucky that the team was available to come up that quickly. And then they ended up stabilizing her enough and then flew her down to Children’s with my husband, Joe. A cardiac team was waiting for her.”
Allison was nine days old when her heart surgery was successfully performed in an interesting manner. “They were able to go in underneath her left shoulder blade to do the repair,” says Jacquie.
Allison’s mom says “her heart has a few areas, like a few of her valves, that they continue to monitor and will for her whole life. “With Children’s they have, it’s called the Partnerships Program and it comes to various areas of the province to support families so they don’t have to travel all the way down to Vancouver, which is quite costly. So through the program we’re able to be seen by the cardiac clinic that knows these children very well.”
Jacquie relates another interesting aspect to this story. “When Allison went into distress, being that we had two babies, Mya was doing quite well but still needed to be in NICU, so Joe went down with Allison and I was up here in the NICU still with Mya. Then I went down to be with Allison and Joe prior to and after her surgery. And then the NICU team here was able to air-vac Mya down to children’s because she was needing some assistance too. She was having some apnea where her breathing stopped a little bit, but once the girls got back together it stopped.”
“It’s a twin connection apparently. Our midwife explained it to me that they’ve done studies where if twins are separated, sometimes one of the twins will have some apnea and then as soon as they are re-connected, or together sleeping side-by-side as they were in utero, it helps regulate their breathing.”
The life-saving and altering experience has had a phenomenal impact on the Laquerre family and has very clearly brought home the message that anyone can find themselves in such a situation in an instant. Jacquie says “we know that there’s other families of children that have very critical care needs for their children. For Joe and I one of the things was to find a way of saying “thank you” for saving our daughter’s life and the lives of children that never would have had that second chance.”
“One way that we’ve done that is by becoming involved with the Prince George Community for Kids Committee. It’s a partnership with Children’s Hospital and different committees around the province to do fundraisers in the various regions and to bring awareness of BC Children’s Hospital and the services it provides.”
“Our committee is having its 10th annual BC Children’s Hospital Golf Tournament this Sunday at Alder Hills. There’s a silent auction and other prizes that have been donated generously from our community. The entry fee is $75 and that includes a steak or chicken dinner, which again has been donated by the community. And Chef Marc Kraima from North 54 is donating his time to do the barbecuing for us.”
Jacquie says for her girls’ first and second birthdays they asked friends and family to donate to Children’s instead of buying presents. Now in her second year of involvement with the golf tournament, says the event is being completely organized and put on “by volunteers who see the tremendous value in the work that Children’s Hospital does for children and families in our province.”
She says the committee is hoping to raise $15,000. Those wishing to take part in the tournament have until 3 this afternoon to contact Jacquie Laquerre at email@example.com