For Kenton’s family, every breath is a gift.

Kenton was born with an extremely rare condition and at times his parents, Karmen and Kyle, worried he wouldn’t make it. 

“Going into emergency and getting the news that we were going to be admitted with our newborn was terrifying.”

When Karmen was 36 weeks pregnant with Kenton she needed an iron transfusion, where iron is delivered to a patient through an IV, but had an allergic reaction. After Karmen recovered, Kenton’s heart rate began to slow so doctors continued to keep a close eye on mom and baby.

Two weeks later, when Karmen went into labour and her water broke there was also thick fluid called meconium present, which can happen when a fetus has been under stress. A first, Kenton struggled to breathe but he began to stabilize, and the family was sent home.

But something was still not right. Kenton spent almost 24 hours a day sleeping, his colour was off and his breath sounded strange.

“I just had a feeling something was up,” says Karmen, who is also an obstetrics nurse at HSC Winnipeg.

At Kenton’s two-week checkup he was breathing three times the normal rate, so his doctor sent the family to HSC Winnipeg Children’s Emergency. He was admitted and stayed for one month while his health care team ran many different tests to figure out what was wrong.

One of those tests, when Kenton was just five weeks old, was a surgical procedure called an open lung biopsy. Karmen remembers feeling so scared leading up to the appointment that she wasn’t able to speak.

“The surgeon reassured us and made it feel like a routine procedure and it was really comforting,” says Karmen.  

The biopsy revealed a foreign substance in Kenton’s lungs, thought to be the meconium, and Kenton was diagnosed with meconium consolidation, which resulted in lung disease.

Kenton was sent home with an oxygen monitor and prescribed tube feeds to protect his airway. He has needed support at Children’s Emergency many times since his one-month stay. His lungs are sensitive, so when he gets sick his breathing can be compromised. 

“Kenton is still with us because of his community and the people who cared for him at HSC Children’s.  We truly did not know if he would make it at some points,” says Karmen. “We are so lucky to have some of the absolute best care in the country, so close to us.”

At 10 months old, an X-Ray showed Kenton’s lungs were finally clear of the meconium, with some scar tissue remaining. Kenton will continue to see respirology experts at HSC Children’s as he grows and will likely need treatment for asthma. Karmen feels comforted knowing the team at the hospital will always be there for him.

“HSC Children’s Hospital is just a whole other world and the staff seem to really, genuinely enjoy their jobs and want to help not just the patient, but their families as well,” says Karmen. “They’re always really happy to help which is awesome.”

Kenton is now one year old, able to eat on his own and doing great. He loves being with his family, going for walks outside and playing with toy cars.

Karmen and Kyle are deeply grateful for generous donors who continue to care for kids like Kenton, so they can cherish every moment with their son and his older sister, Everley.

“Thank you for being generous enough to think of those families who desperately need the support. There are so many other ways that folks could spend their money, but to donate to the children’s hospital is so appreciated and admired.”

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