Beyond What You Can Imagine

Emily and Casey expected to be at the hospital that day for their first child’s due date, which was now overshadowed by something else.

Casey Parenteau was playing hockey when he felt his heart beating unusually fast. At home, his wife Emily, a physician assistant, felt that his pulse was low and decided to take Casey to the emergency room.

Her decision couldn’t have come at a better time. As they were pulling up to the emergency room at Fairview Southdale Hospital, Casey—young, healthy and active—became unresponsive and went into cardiac arrest.

Emily and Casey expected to be at the hospital that day, but for different reasons—Emily was nine months pregnant. Now, their first child’s due date was overshadowed by Casey’s indeterminable status.

“I felt like my heart fell into my foot,” says Emily. “It really was, I would say, the worst day of my life.”

What are the chances?

The Emergency Department team got Casey’s heart beating again. He was placed in a medically induced coma to be stabilized. When he was safely awake, a cardiology team told Casey of plans to perform tests looking for something called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.

“That was comforting,” says Casey, “To hear somebody explain to you what you’re going to do, what’s going to happen—what they think is reasonable to find during [the test] was all laid out so I knew exactly what was going to happen when I was going in.”

The cardiology team found what they were looking for—an extra piece of electrical tissue that they were able to destroy. Casey was cured and given the relief of knowing this heart complication would never happen again.

With Casey still hospitalized, Emily, now five days overdue, went into labor. The Birthplace at Fairview Southdale Hospital team partnered with colleagues down the hall in the Heart Center to keep Casey involved and present in Emily’s delivery.

Emily soon gave birth to a healthy baby girl they named Bea. After a long, unexpected week, the family of three was discharged, free to go home to start a new chapter in their lives.

Care that exceeds expectations

Watch Casey and Emily’s story to meet just three of the dozens of care team members at Fairview Southdale Hospital who cared for the Parenteaus.

“The care that we received from start to finish—I can’t say enough about how great it was,” says Casey. “I knew I wasn’t the only one at the hospital, but it felt like I was the only one at the hospital.”

This November, baby Bea turned 1 year old. The Parenteau family is happy and healthy. Emily, inspired by the teamwork and compassion she witnessed at Fairview Southdale Hospital, changed jobs and now works in a Fairview clinic.

Learn more about The Birthplace at Fairview Southdale Hospital, the heart care programs and services offered by University of Minnesota Health Heart Care at the hospital.


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