Where do you turn when your child is struggling to breathe?

 “You never know when you’re going to need the emergency department and when that emergency department is going to save your child’s life.”

Dr. Lauren Kelly, mother, principal investigator and clinical trials director at Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM), and an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and therapeutics at U of M, had no idea her two-year-old daughter, Madeleine, would need Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.

In mid October of 2022, at the peak of RSV and influenza season, Madeleine wasn’t feeling well. She had COVID-19 two weeks prior and was dealing with a fever off and on with endless coughing. Doctors prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection, but Madeleine’s condition began to get worse.

“She was sitting on me, and I could feel her struggling to breathe and wheezing,” says Lauren.

Lauren and her partner, Bruce, knew Madeleine needed immediate care. So, Lauren took Madeleine to Children’s Hospital Emergency.

The healthcare team at Children’s Emergency gave Madeleine steroids and prescribed an inhaler before sending her home. But her condition continued to decline the next day so Lauren and Madeleine went back to the Emergency department.

Madeleine was rushed to the resuscitation room at HSC Children’s Hospital, where she stayed for almost ten hours before being transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Doctors put her on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to help get oxygen to her lungs, which she needed for the next three days.

Madeleine was diagnosed with RSV positive bronchiolitis, and she spent nine days at HSC Children’s with hospital teams helping her, and Lauren too.

Those nine days were incredibly difficult for Lauren and her family, who have no relatives living in province and a four-year old at home. Lauren is grateful for the caring staff who were there for her as she waited by her daughter’s bed.

She remembers one nurse who gave her a big hug, comforted her, found her a shower and made up a bed in the lounge so she could sleep without the constant alarms.

“I’ll just never forget that little bit of rest, and how it made me feel like I actually mattered. That little moment made such a huge difference.”

Madeleine was released from hospital but continues to need an inhaler twice a day and is being followed by an asthma specialist. She is a growing toddler who loves anything her older brother, William, is up to — which right now is mostly dinosaurs and magnet tiles.

Lauren says she’s extremely thankful Children’s Hospital Emergency is always there for families.

“If you have concerns about your kids, you need to trust your instincts as a parent. If you are worried that your child isn’t breathing right, they should be examined,” says Lauren. “Even as someone who works in child health, I didn’t realize the severity of RSV bronchiolitis, and just how common it is for children to require hospitalization.”

In her role at CHRIM, Lauren studies drug safety in pregnancy and children. She’s also the clinical trials director, providing scientific oversight for researchers conducting clinical trials.

Currently she is working alongside CHRIM investigator Dr. Richard Keijzer to launch a clinical trial investigating the impact of classroom air filtration in reducing rates of respiratory infections in children.

Lauren says Madeleine’s experience has given her a deep appreciation for her colleagues in Children’s Emergency and is grateful for the family-centred care at HSC Children’s.

You can help families like Madeleine’s by making a donation to revitalize Children’s Hospital Emergency today. Funds raised will go towards improving patient and staff experience, patient flow in all areas and patient safety.

“Every dollar that you give is going to make a difference,” says Lauren. “This is a place where there are so many needs.”

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