Jack J.

Becoming a parent is never easy, but what Samantha and her husband Jason went through is unimaginable.

“I was just scared and I didn’t know what to expect so we were just living day to day.”

October of 2015, twenty-six weeks into her pregnancy, Samantha was enjoying Thanksgiving dinner when she started experiencing cramps then contractions. After an emergency C-section,  Samantha gave birth to twin boys, Jack and Jori. Both babies were taken immediately to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and put on ventilators.

Six days later Samantha and Jason got the heartbreaking news that Jori would not survive.

As they grieved the loss of Jori, Samantha and Jason had another challenge to face – tests revealed Jack had fluid on his brain, a condition called hydrocephalus.

Jack needed brain surgery, but at just over two pounds he wasn’t big enough yet. They waited until December, when he was five pounds, for his first procedure at HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital.

“I was thoroughly frightened the whole time. I was just completely afraid that I was going to lose him too,” says Samantha.

In his first year of life Jack had a total of seven surgeries at HSC Children’s to correct the hydrocephalus with a shunt, and also to replace the shunt after he contracted meningitis.

“Our life will forever be changed because of the lifesaving technology the hospital continuously has to offer,” says Samantha.

“We are forever grateful for HSC Children’s giving us the best gift we’ve ever known, the opportunity to be Jack’s parents.”

Jack’s shunt remained in place, but at two years old he got another life-changing diagnosis.

“It was another blow. We felt kind of disheartened and like this isn’t over. It was just a lot more that we weren’t expecting to have to take on.”

During premature newborn follow-up appointments doctors discovered Jack had spastic diplegia, a type of cerebral palsy where muscles in the hips and legs get so tight it’s difficult to walk. Jack was given medication and Botox treatments to help reduce his discomfort but he still needed surgery.

When Jack was five, in June of 2021, Samantha and Jack traveled to Montreal for a specialized procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) where just the nerves causing muscle tightness are cut.

“It brought back everything all over again and I felt like I could lose him again.”

The surgery was a success; with extensive physiotherapy Jack should be able to move freely.

“He’s thriving, he’s doing really fantastic. Jack will continue to live a happy and healthy life,” says Samantha.

Jack loves all things cleaning! Mopping is his absolute favourite but he loves vacuums too, including his friend Stanley the Roomba. He also enjoys arts and crafts, cooking and playing on swings. He started school in fall of 2021.

Samantha and Jason are thankful to know HSC Children’s will be there for them whenever they need, and deeply appreciate donors who continue to help kids like Jack.

“I am eternally grateful to anyone who has supported Children’s Hospital, because without your help I may have lost both my sons.”

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