Shift in pediatric medicine allows some heart patients more flexibility and playtime

May 9, 2018, 5:01 PM | Updated: 9:12 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — There’s a new push in pediatric medicine to make a child’s hospital stay more comfortable and enjoyable for even the sickest patients, and Utah doctors say it helps these kids thrive.

Krista Terry shared her candy with doctors and nurses while awaiting a heart transplant.

Krista Terry, age 5, spent 194 days at Primary Children’s Hospital waiting for a heart transplant. During that time, she became a trailblazer. She was the first heart patient transferred to a regular floor from the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

Michael Profsky, a nurse at Primary Children’s Hospital, said, “It’s real tough. The CICU never sleeps. It’s constantly going. There are lights, there are alarms; there’s no day, no night.”

Moving heart patients who are stable to a main floor is the new standard of care. “It was really good to be up here,” said Paige Terry, Krista’s mom. “She got to be up and out of her bed more. She got to walk around as much as her machine would let her.”

A Berlin heart beat for Krista. It’s a heart pump connected to a machine that maintains blood flow in patients with serious heart failure.

Doctors never know how long a heart transplant patient will be in the hospital waiting for a new heart. It could be a few weeks or up to a year. Now, they can live more of a normal life, and play, which helps them meet developmental milestones.

It was during that time that Krista started her “candy rounds.”

“They made a comment about how it looked like she was on a parade and she needed candy to throw at the nurses,” remembers Terry.

Dr. Lindsay May at Primary Children’s Hospital said, “The patients can leave the room much more freely. They can go to the playroom. We’re able to get them out to the gym, to school, things like that that are more normal and really promote their development.”

Baby Simaya Hem spends time with her family while waiting for a heart transplant at Primary Children’s Hospital.

That’s also been key for another patient, Simaya Hem.

“Good job, high-five,” said her mother, Natalie Hem.  A simple moment of play with her 10-month-old daughter on her play mat wouldn’t have been possible before.

She also has a Berlin Heart.

Now, her family can spend time with her all together because along with being healthy enough, there’s plenty of room, which wasn’t possible in the CICU.

“It’s nice because they all come and play and hang out, and they get to go with her for her walks, and stuff like that,” Hem said.

To make the transition work, the nurses did special training, and extra preparations for emergencies.

“We created something called a VAD phone which allowed the nurses to reach a doctor 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week,” said Profsky.

Krista Terry, age 5, does her last “candy rounds” at Primary Children’s Hospital after a successful heart transplant.

May said, “We can have a real-time conversation about the patient. There’s no, ‘I sent a page, no one’s answered.’ There’s not those moments where the nursing staff could feel unsupported or like there’s a potential problem developing.”

After many long months, Krista got a new heart. And it was time for her last candy round.  “I’m going home!” Krista Terry said.

For the staff, the moment was bitter-sweet. But definitely more sweet than bitter.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


There are five kinds of rattlesnakes that populate Utah (DWR)...
Shara Park and Larry D. Curtis, KSL TV

Utahns experiencing close encounters of the rattlesnake kind

As you make plans to head to the great outdoors this holiday weekend, you may want to heed the warning about rattlesnakes.
2 days ago
Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in the United States. Rabid bats have been fo...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

State confirms rabies found in three Utah bats

The state of Utah confirmed on Thursday three cases of rabies so far this summer. The cases were found in bats in Salt Lake County, Weber County, and Washington County.
2 days ago
LGBTQ teens at an Encircle activity....
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Parents’ support key to mental health among LGBTQ+ youth, experts say

Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. live with a mental health condition. In the LGBTQ+ community, that number is three times higher. Experts say family support is crucial to an adolescents’ mental health.
3 days ago
The American Heart Association added sleep duration to its cardiovascular health checklist. It's a ...
Megan Marples, CNN

Sleep duration matters for heart health, according to new recommendations

If you needed another reason to get enough sleep, here it is: It may help your heart health.
3 days ago
FILE: A woman with an  iPhone...
BARBARA ORTUTAY AP Technology Writer

EXPLAINER: Data privacy concerns emerge after Roe decision

With abortion now or soon to be illegal in over a dozen states and severely restricted in many more, Big Tech companies that collect personal details of their users are facing new calls to limit that tracking and surveillance.
3 days ago
The Biden Administration is expected to detail plans to roll out more monkeypox vaccines across the...
Brenda Goodman, CNN

US to offer monkeypox vaccines in states with high case rates

The Biden Administration announced plans to beef up its response to monkeypox on Tuesday, detailing plans to offer more vaccines and more tests to people who are most at risk of getting it — including men who have sex with men and their partners.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Shift in pediatric medicine allows some heart patients more flexibility and playtime