The Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation has been the benefiting charity of Shamrock Run for the past 22 years. Each year, donations to Doernbecher through the Shamrock Run are donated to the Foundation’s Friends of Doernbecher Grant Program, which funds innovative projects and cutting-edge research that directly benefit current and future Doernbecher patients and families.

In 2017, Friends of Doernbecher Grants helped create a new pilot project at Doernbecher, the Pediatric Sonographer University. The Pediatric Sonographer University is a two‐day course created by pediatric cardiologists and pediatric sonographers to help equip adult sonographers already being asked to perform pediatric studies in rural areas with the tools to recognize certain life threatening conditions in children they may encounter in the field.

A Friends of Doernbecher Foundation Grant, a program your Shamrock Run dollars help support, has:
• Allowed this course to come to fruition.
• Helped establish Doernbecher as a premier educator for pediatric echocardiography in Oregon.
• And, most importantly, improved the outcomes of children with heart disease in the Northwest.

Earlier this month we sat down with two researchers behind the Pediatric Sonographer University to learn more about it, and how a Friends of Doernbecher Grant helped create this important project. Check out our Q&A with researchers Erin Janelle Madriago M.D. and Lindsay Hamilton-Scott.

• What are the types of childhood cardiac illnesses that pediatric echocardiography can help diagnose and how critical is the need for this service in the Northwest?
We diagnose ALL congenital cardiac disease, or heart disease that is present at birth. Echocardiography is the standard imaging modality for diagnosis and surveillance of patients throughout life.

• Describe Sonographer University (SU) — why it’s needed, how it got started, what it does, what it hopes to accomplish?
In hospitals across Oregon and SW Washington, sonographers perform echocardiograms (ultrasound images of the heart) on adult patients. Occasionally, those adult trained sonographers are asked to image newborn babies with suspected congenital heart disease. Without additional pediatric training, sonographers may be ill-prepared to perform an accurate study because these occasions are often stressful, with timing critical to initiate a treatment or transfer the patient. Sonographer University is an intensive course designed to improve accuracy, efficiency, and confidence when performing echos on pediatric patients. It includes lectures on congenital heart disease, how to recognize when something is critical, and hands-on scanning on pediatric patients with congenital heart disease. Sonographers that complete the course should have a greater understanding of when something is emergent and know how to get key images to aid in rapid patient management.

• How will runners’ participation in Shamrock Run help the program/how has their participation in the past helped the program?
Proceeds from Shamrock Run registrations benefit the Friends of Doernbecher Foundation, a volunteer organization dedicated to long-term support for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. One way that Friends of Doernbecher benefits the hospital is through generous grant funding that supports scientific and clinical research projects, such as Sonographer University. Our dream, of many years, was made a reality due to the Friends of Doernbecher grant we received, made possible – in part – by Shamrock Runners!

• How unique is SU and who participates in the course?
SU is the only program of its kind in the Oregon and SW Washington region and is actually very unique across the nation. There are many courses that teach adult trained sonographers about pediatric echo through lectures, but SU is unique because it has an additional piece of hands-on scanning. Sonographers get quality one-on-one time, personalized feedback, and advice from pediatric echo experts while they image children with known congenital heart disease.

• Any stories you can tell us about how pediatric echocardiography has saved lives?
Five months before he was born, Jacob was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition present at birth that causes the left side the heart to form incorrectly. Throughout the remainder of her pregnancy, Jacob’s mom underwent monthly ultrasounds and electrocardiograms which allowed us, the health care team, to closely observe Jacob’s fragile heart for any indication of further change or potential complication as he continued to develop in the womb. Because we knew what to expect, we were able to compile a customized care plan for Jacob that would be implemented as soon as he took his first breath.

When Jacob was born, there were no obvious signs or symptoms of a heart defect, but – because of the advanced monitoring through echocardiography, we knew it was necessary for him to undergo life-saving surgery at just 8 days old. Without early diagnosis, and regular monitoring, it may not have been possible to identify Jacob’s cardiac needs in time.

Jacob, now 3 years old, is thriving. Read more about his story here.

• What parts of Oregon will be most positively affected by the continued success of SU?
All adult echo sonographers across Oregon and SW Washington are invited to SU. This means that children and families living in these regions will benefit from increased recognition of congenital heart disease on echo which will lead to earlier treatment initiation and transfer of care to tertiary care facilities, like Doernbecher. Early identification and treatment of congenital heart disease can save lives.

• Anything else you’d like to share?
2019 Shamrock Run contributions will further benefit the Friends of Doernbecher Foundation to support future research and clinical projects similar to Sonographer University. Learn more about The Friends of Doernbecher here.

More about Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation: The foundation provides power, potential, and promise for one of America’s leading pediatric health centers: Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The commitment and generosity of thousands of donors – individuals, companies, foundations, and organizations – help make possible comprehensive and innovative health care, education, and research at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for the children of Oregon and southwest Washington. Learn more about Shamrock Run’s relationship with Doernbecher here.