There may not be anything more distressing to a pregnant mother than the diagnosis of a congenital anomaly in her unborn baby.

Ryanne and Justin are from Brandon, Manitoba, and when Ryanne was pregnant, they were sent to HSC Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg for an MRI. That’s when they found out their child, Beckham, would be born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) – an anomaly that occurs when a baby’s diaphragm fails to fully form in the womb and abdominal organs move into the chest. This prevents the baby’s lungs from developing properly, among other complications.

Ryanne and Justin were given a 50 per cent survival rate for Beckham and told that he would need to be born at HSC Children’s.  Beckham was born in November 2022 with CDH, as well as an anomaly on the left side of his diaphragm and his organs developed in his upper chest.

“We were worried our son may never make it home,” says Ryanne. “After birth, Beckham spent 61 days in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where he received phenomenal care,” says Ryanne.

Beckham had CDH repair surgery when he was nine days old and spent the next two months on a high flow jet ventilator, then needed a continuous positive airway pressure  (CPAP) machine, followed by high-flow and regular oxygen until he was finally breathing on his own.

“I often think of how amazing the medical staff is, and how knowledgeable they are,” says Ryanne. “I think about how scared and stressed the parents are, how hard it is to leave your child in the hands of a stranger, and I hope everyone has a good support system in place like we did.”

Beckham returned home with his family after more than two months in the NICU, but just over one month later he was re-hospitalized and diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, a neurological disorder caused by fluid in the brain. He needed two additional surgeries.

“The Children’s Hospital saved our son’s life,” says Ryanne. “We weren’t sure if we would get to bring him home, but all of the staff worked so hard to make sure that he received the best care possible, and we will be grateful forever.”

Beckham is now four and a half months old and doing well at home. He is on medication and Ryanne and Justin watch for any signs his condition has changed. They will continue to work with an occupational therapist and a physical therapist.

Beckham loves to hang out with his family, swinging and kicking around on his playmat and going for walks with his dog, Piper. He has many specialists and will continue routine check-ups with surgeons and doctors. With the treatment from HSC Children’s, Ryanne and Justin hope Beckham will be able to thrive. 

“Having a sick child has really opened our eyes to so many different things,” says Ryanne.

“Without the support and donations, the hospital wouldn’t be able to provide the kind of care that Beckham needed.”

“We felt heard, we felt supported, and we felt like our son was in the best hands possible.”

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