Alcyon was just days old when BC Children’s Cardiology Division Head Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani caught her heart coarctation, and a few days after that, cardiac surgeon Dr. Andrew Campbell performed a successful open-heart surgery that saved her life. Coarctation is a narrowing of the aorta, the major blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the body.
“It just so happened, with luck, Dr. Sanatani was doing a clinic in Surrey that day and checked Alcy out,” said Ava. “He told us she needed surgery right away. We’re getting her transferred to BC Children’s. We honestly think of him as an angel in disguise.”
Alcy, as her mom calls her, is a regular BC Children’s patient and has dealt with several doctors at BC Children’s, as many long-term patients do. Five years ago, she had her tonsils and adenoids taken out by Dr. Moxham. He passed away last month after living with brain cancer.
“He just so amazing and we’re very thankful we had him as Alcy’s doctor. He blew up one of his surgical gloves and made it into an elephant to put her at ease.”
Dr. Moxham was known for the fun tricks he did to help calm patients and make them laugh. After learning about his death, Alcy and Ava posted this thank you on the BC Children’s Messages of Thanks webpage:
“We are forever grateful to the Cardiology team and PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) staff who helped our daughter through her open-heart surgery. Special thanks to Dr. Sanatani for expertly recognizing her coarctation, Dr. Campbell for performing the surgery, and all the PICU staff who helped her recover. The staff was nurturing and attentive to both her needs and the needs of her very nervous new parents.”
Alcy went from having blue legs, being extremely lethargic and not being able to eat to having great colour, eating and being much more expressive.
“The PICU nurses were also absolutely fantastic. I didn’t want to leave my daughter’s side and when I returned, I’d find the nurses cuddling my daughter. The things I thought she’d be missing, she’d be getting from the staff. It was so cool to see that.”
Dr. Sanatani is touched the family wrote after losing Dr. Moxham.
“I still remember Alcyon and her family from when she was just days old. When we look after patients with congenital heart conditions, we get to be part of their lives until they are in their late teens. The relationship is one of my favourite parts of the job. And yes, Dr. Moxham will be missed. I always enjoyed our conversations. He was a fine clinician and wonderful colleague,” he said.
Dr. Campbell also said the thank you held great meaning for him.
“It’s a great privilege to be involved in caring for a child and a family going through such a challenging time in their lives. It brings even greater satisfaction to the team, knowing that the kids we care for are continuing to thrive decades later,” he said.
Dr. Moxham’s wife, Elizabeth, knows her husband touched a number of lives and is comforted to hear a patient who had him years ago is still thinking about him.
“Our daughters and I truly feel in our own hearts the outpouring of love from Paul’s patient families, and to know that Alcy still remembers him from the time she was treated by him when she was five years old, is lovely. Paul had a gift for connecting with kids, and being truly present and authentic with them at their level. I want his patients to know that he saw them, he cared about them, and they were important to him, just as if they were his family. By remembering their Dr. Paul, they all carry a little part of him inside of them,” she said.
Read Dr. Moxham’s poignant obituary and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation Instagram post with more than 80 messages from mainly patients. Watch the story also featured on Global News.