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r. Roderick MacArthur ('92) found himself in an
unusual and unenviable situation. As a cardiac surgeon,
he was used to holding a life in his hands every time he
stepped to the operating table, but now he had two: the
woman with the aortic tear who would die if he did not
repair it and her unborn baby who could die if he did.
"It was a very unusual case. I probably will never see another one," he says.
In order to repair the tear, the woman, who was 35 weeks pregnant, had
to be put on cardiopulmonary bypass, her body temperature dropped
to a hypothermic 16 C -- untenable conditions for her child.
"We elected to open the chest, prepare to go on cardiopulmonary bypass
and then the obstetricians came in and delivered the baby," MacArthur
says. "Th e baby came out fl at(line) because of the drugs used to put the
mom to sleep."
For four or fi ve hours MacArthur operated on the woman without
knowing if the baby had lived or died. Finally, someone came to tell
him she was fi ne.
Th e little girl -- her parents named her Miracle -- is nearly four now.
MacArthur is just one of a long line of Mount Allison graduates who has
developed a passion for medicine during their time at the University.
"I spent 17 years training aft er high school and the most important ones
were the four I spent at Mount Allison," he says. "I was a kid entering
into Mount Allison. I came out the other side as an adult. It was a key point
in my development."
Although Miracle may be MacArthur's claim to fame, it is his
everyday work as director of the mechanical circulatory support
(MCS) program at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute that
is his real baby.
Only a few years ago mechanical pumps were a means to keep a patient
alive until they could undergo a heart transplant, but the fi eld is
evolving rapidly.
by Aloma Jardine
Dr. Roderick MacArthur ('92) (left)
Future doctors
cultivate their passion at
Mount Allison