It’s never easy to learn your child may have medical complications, and for Cortney and Mark Lee, the news came before their daughter, Alexis, was even born.

At a 28-week ultrasound they found out Alexis had developed a congenital disorder.

“We just had to get her as close to term as possible,” says Cortney.

Alexis was born at 34 weeks with a left-sided Diaphragmatic Hernia —a hole in the baby’s diaphragm which causes abdominal organs move into the chest. This prevents the baby’s lungs from developing properly, among other complications.

Alexis went through repair surgery at only 40 hours old and after three and a half weeks of highs and lows, Cortney and Mark were able to take her home.

“After having Alexis and going through the immediate hospital stay and various interventions, we found ourselves very anxious and overprotective,” says Cortney. “Talking through our feelings and worries with health professionals and Alexis’ care team helped us manage these worries.”

The staff at HSC Children’s Hospital supported the Lees in many ways — from taking the time to explain procedures, to noticing when Cortney and Mark needed a break and insisting they take one — staff even sent them on a ‘date’ to a Winnipeg Jets game.

“Every time we step foot in HSC Children’s we say this place is full of very special people,” says Cortney. “Each time we are blown away by the exceptional care each and every person gives.”

Alexis feels very connected to the team at the hospital too, and when she was younger, all of her stuffed animals and dolls were named after the healthcare staff that cared for her.

Now 11 years old, Alexis is in grade six and doing great. She still goes to HSC Children’s every six months for breathing tests and check-ups.

“Having been through scary times with your kids, I feel like the worry never really goes away, you just learn how to manage it.”

Alexis loves trying all sorts of physical and creative activities like soccer, dance, swimming, piano, volleyball, and basketball — all activities her family never thought she’d get to do. The care, equipment, and treatment Alexis received at HSC Children’s made that a possibility.

“Without donations and support, most of the specialized equipment necessary for Alexis’ care wouldn’t have been available,” says Cortney.

To show their gratitude for HSC Children’s in 2022, Alexis and her family decided to make and sell Christmas ornaments and donate all the funds to the Children’s Hospital Foundation — they ended up raising $1240!

 “We will never be able to repay the hospital for everything they have done for our family,” says Cortney.

Their family plans on giving back every year to help other sick and injured children like Alexis.

“Each little gift felt like a million dollars to us in that hospital,” says Cortney. “The blanket we got to take her home in, the video games in the waiting rooms for the kids, everything makes each stay less scary and brings a smile to those going through very stressful times.”

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