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Ontario mother overjoyed her toddler has heart surgery after 4 cancellations at SickKids

An Ontario mother is overjoyed her three-year-old son is recovering from a life-saving heart surgery, which had been cancelled four times and delayed for months due to hospital staffing issues.

“I’m overwhelmed. I’m excited. I’m really happy. I just received the best news that the surgery is done,” Marina Pergat told CTV News Toronto outside the Hospital for Sick Children Tuesday.

Roman Tsoy has a condition called Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which requires three surgeries. Pergat said the first two surgeries after his birth were done in a timely manner, but the third initially scheduled at the end of May — ended up being cancelled by SickKids four times.

“We cancelled birthday parties, we cancelled everything, trips, because every time we got a hope it’s maybe going to happen tomorrow.”

Each cancellation Pergat said it was because there wasn’t an ICU nurse to be with be Roman one-on-one in recovery, adding two of cancellations were made the same day as the scheduled surgery.

Last week, Pergat spoke out about the cancellations, telling CTV News Toronto that she was frustrated and upset.

One day later, she received a phone call at her Newmarket home from the surgeon telling her the surgery was rescheduled for Aug. 1.

On the Tuesday, Pergat said she was confident Roman’s surgery would go ahead knowing her story was in the public eye.

“I left my house at 4 a.m. so I really thought that nobody would call me this time, and for sure it would go through,” she said.

“I actually love our surgeon and I’m really grateful to him, that phone call meant the world to be. It meant we won this fight,” she said. “I saw him today for the first time since the last surgery and I was really happy to see him. He was smiling. I could tell he had the good news.”

Roman Tsoy gets ready for his third surgery at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. (Provided)

While this is good news for Roman, there are still many children waiting for surgeries. The hospital revealed last week it has a significant surgical backlog of more than 6,500 patients, with around 67 per cent waiting longer than the recommended time.

“Don’t give up, maybe we need to speak up more and hopefully all those kids on the list will get in … the surgeries are happening, it’s just the backlog that needs to be cleared up.”

She said unfortunately she doesn’t believe the children who surgeries, can wait.

“Something else needs to be done. Hopefully my story attracts attention. I think it already has attracted attention of the government and of SickKids management, and hopefully they will get in soon.”

Before the surgery, Roman was dealing with low oxygen levels and body pain, while the the family’s lives were on hold. Pergat couldn’t work and Roman couldn’t go to daycare.

Pergat says finally getting the surgery means he will feel better, his life will be prolonged and their lives can resume normally.

“I already signed him up for daycare, he’s starting in September,” she said. “He can’t wait to be around other kids. I’m going to get a job, we’re going to start to travel finally, my parents are going to visit, we’re going to live.”

“All I feel right now is peace and happiness.”

Marina Pergat is desperate for her three-year-old son to receive a heart surgery that she says has been cancelled already four times this year. (CTV News Toronto)

SICKKIDS AND THE SURGICAL BACKLOG

In a new statement Tuesday, numbers from SickKids actually show an increase in the surgical backlog, from 6,552 to 6,583 patients since last week.

“Over the course of the last three weeks, clinical teams have completed an average of 235 cases per week, with 30 per cent being urgent and unplanned emergency cases.”

While Pergat said the hospital told her the cancellations were due to a lack of an ICU nurse, SickKids explained in the last few weeks cardiovascular surgery cases were rescheduled to accommodate urgent cases.

“In some instances, surgical teams worked into the early hours of the morning resulting in the rescheduling of surgeries the next day. Urgent cases such as life-threatening neonatal conditions and transplants take priority when managing complex surgical programs. These events cannot always be anticipated and have an impact on pre-scheduled procedures.”

SickKids said the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery is a protected surgical service with a manageable waitlist of approximately 90 patients, with less than 20 per cent being outside the recommended window of time for their procedures.

SickKids said it’s continuing to work with government partners who have announced recent investments to address the surgical waitlist to help patients access the care they need in a timely fashion.

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