Heart surgery returns for WA newborns in need

WA Health Minister John Day announced the successful resumption of complex neonatal cardiac surgery at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH).

“This is a major milestone, reducing travel requirements and trauma during what is already a challenging time for our youngest heart patients and their families,” Mr Day said.

“For the past eight years, PMH has had to transfer complex neonatal cardiac cases to the Eastern States due to a shortage of specialist surgeons and infrastructure.

“I am proud to say, thanks to the dedication of staff and management, the hospital has now established a fully equipped and sustainable specialist team to provide this sophisticated service in Perth.”

Following surgery, patients will receive comprehensive care, initially in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, then in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before going home.

PMH provides additional programs such as social work and counselling as required on a case-by-case basis.

“Providing the full suite of services, from operations to long-term support and care, will make a big difference to these families,” the Minister said.

“The PMH complex neonatal surgery team includes a specialist cardiac surgeon, cardiac surgical fellow, surgical liaison nurse, anaesthetists, anaesthetic technicians, theatre nurses, perfusionists, scientific officers, intensivists and cardiologists.”

Neonatal cardiac surgery is required for patients suffering from:

  • transposition of the great arteries – a congenital heart defect resulting in the two main arteries (the pulmonary artery and the aorta) going out of the heart switched in position
  • aortic arch hypoplasia – a blockage in the aorta.

“Untreated, these babies will die before their first birthday,” Mr Day said.

“The new service has already successfully operated on three Western Australian newborns and is expected to treat between 10 and 15 patients a year, giving them the best chance of not only surviving but living healthy lives.”

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