Victor Baby Recovers from Surgery to Close Two Holes in Her Heart

Her family will share its heartwarming story during Miracle Weekend

May 23, 2002

During its Miracle Weekend celebration June 1-2, Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong will honor five children as Miracle Kids. One of those children, Mae Palmatier, of Victor, was just 4 months old when she underwent open-heart surgery at Golisano Children's Hospital, the only hospital in the Rochester and Finger Lakes areas devoted solely to caring for children

Using technology available at the hospital's Children's Heart Center, Carol Buzzard, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist, diagnosed Mae's heart defect - known as a complete atrioventricular canal - before she was born. The condition, which happens early in fetal development, occurs when special tissue in the center of the heart fails to develop, leaving two holes, one in the upper portion of the heart and one in the lower portion.

As part of this condition, Mae developed only one atrioventricular valve instead of two separate valves. Pediatric cardiologists knew this problem should be corrected before Mae's first birthday to prevent high pressure from developing in the lungs. Just a baby, Mae underwent five hours of open-heart surgery on Nov. 30, 2001. Performed by George Alfieris, M.D., the only pediatric heart surgeon in Rochester, Syracuse, or Buffalo, it involved closing both holes and separating the single valve into two separate valves. Mae did wonderfully during her recovery and was discharged seven days after surgery.

"We always felt as if we were in the best possible place for Mae's surgery," says her father, Jim Palmatier, of Victor. "The doctors and nurses have known her since she was born, and they treat her as a person, not as another patient coming through the doors."

Miracle Weekend Celebration

Miracle Weekend is always one of the most exciting times of the year for Golisano Children's Hospital. It includes two major events.

The Golisano Children's Hospital Telethon will be broadcast live from the hospital on 10NBC June 1-2. In addition, Miracle Weekend always includes the Stroll for Strong Kids, to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Genesee Valley Park. Children's activities and registration will begin at 9 a.m. When finished with their "Stroll," walkers will be treated to a free lunch provided by Outback Steakhouse. There will be music by Gary the Happy Pirate, and many fun activities for the kids.

Participants are asked to raise money through sponsorship pledges from family members, friends and co-workers. Those who raise $75 or more in pledges will receive a commemorative t-shirt, and prizes will be awarded to the top fund-raisers. Last year, some 800 people took part, raising more than $80,000 for Golisano Children's Hospital. Pre-registration is required. To register for the Stroll for Strong Kids, or learn more about any Miracle Weekend event, call 585-273-5948.

In addition to honoring children such as Mae, Miracle Weekend allows the hospital to raise funds that provide needed equipment for the children it serves, and items that make their stay a little easier. Money raised will be used by Golisano Children's Hospital to buy equipment, such as preemie blood-pressure cuffs, and supplies that make hospital stays easier, such as IV pole wagons, videos and games, and sleeper chairs so parents have a comfortable place to rest when they stay with their children.

In addition, this year's Miracle Weekend events will help support the creation of a new 22-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, one that will make special provisions for children who have heart problems.

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