Heart surgery

Miracle Monday: 10-year-old overcomes third open heart surgery


SPOKANE, Washington – The Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital is a leader in healthcare, attracting families from across the Pacific Northwest for the first-rate care they provide. In many ways, this institution is able to offer cutting edge care, thanks to very generous donors. Philanthropy plays a big role in the hospital’s ability to provide exceptional care to residents of our community and beyond.

Grace Sotka was born with a birth defect in the blood vessels above her heart. Luckily, for her family, who live in Idaho, they had the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital close enough to help. Her mother, Crystal Conners, said: “They saved her life more than once and we are just blessed.”

Surgery for congenital heart disease is highly specialized and several hospitals in the Northwest offer this care. Dr Neil Worrall, who treated Grace, understands why she was so lucky.

“I think what sets us apart from a few other centers is the fact that we are part of a large institution for adults and children, which allows us to have continuous care, from the fetus to infancy through to ‘adulthood.

The Sacré-CÅ“ur Children’s Hospital offers life-long care, on the same campus, within the same institution. This continuity of care is a game-changer for patients like Sotka, who underwent her third open heart surgery at just 10 years old. With an illness like hers, that was to be expected.

“The original goals of surgery in the 1970s and 1980s were purely to allow the child to survive the surgery. It’s almost a given these days anyway and we really focus on the quality of life and physical strength of children after their surgeries, ”explained Dr Worrall.

This type of care is exactly what Grace has received since the day she had her first surgery.

The older Grace gets, the more she realizes the struggle she is going through.

“I tell her, we are on a trip for a happy heart,” her mother said.

This trip would be much more complicated if it weren’t for the donations made to the Children’s Miracle Network, which makes this kind of care possible.

“The procedures that we have to do, a lot of ventilators, heart and lung machines, etc. are quite expensive and often exceed the usual capacities of hospital budgets,” said Dr Worrall.

Doctors sometimes need special ventilators for the smallest newborns, such as Grace Sotka once was, who are being treated at the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

The hospital staff know that Grace’s courage will take her far in this fight.

“They like her because she’s fiery and she yells at them.” They reassure her, it’s normal to be angry, ”her mother said.

These days, that anger turns into bravery and courage to fuel his fight.

Conners told us that his daughters asked, “She said, ‘why me? I say because you are stronger than all of us.

If you would like to support programs like this right here in the Northwest Interior, you can donate to the Children’s Miracle Network. Click here!

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