No parent ever expects to have to visit the emergency department with their child. They hope they will never need it.

“As we were driving, I noticed Mitchell not moving his upper limbs properly and I knew that it was even more serious. I was on the phone with HealthLinks and hung up the phone and dialed 9-1-1,” says Jillian Renaud.

Her son Mitchell, six months old at the time, had taken a minor fall at home. After comforting him, Jillian – an acute care physiotherapist – noticed his eyes roll back and she worried that he had more than a head bump. The family decided to drive from their home in La Salle to HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, but quickly changed course to Oak Bluff Paramedic Station while on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator.

Paramedics there assessed Mitchell and determined the best course of action was to take him to HSC Children’s – Manitoba’s centre for pediatric trauma care.

Mitchell sitting on the floor wearing a shirt with the word hero on it.

In the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, nurses and physicians ran tests on young Mitchell and provided Jillian with information on head injuries so she would be aware of what could be happening with her child. The doctors explained that there is a recommended six-hour watch-and-see timeframe before getting a CT scan on a child as young as Mitchell to prevent unnecessarily subjecting a developing brain to the radiation of an Xray. The family agreed to wait there and watch, with doctors doing regular check ups on how Mitchell was responding.

At around four hours, a large hematoma had started to form on Mitchell’s scalp. A hematoma is a bad bruise from blood collecting under the skin but is not usually a cause for concern. However, by hour five Mitchell started projectile vomiting and became very pale causing an attending physician to escalate care to get the CT scan.

It was in the CT room that Jillian had a profound and devastating feeling that her son was no longer with them.

“I just began screaming in fear, ‘my baby is not ok!’”

“It all happened so fast after that – he was crashing. The nurse grabbed him and took him into the resuscitation room.” 

Jillian’s husband Mike arrived with their two older children. The parents sat in the resuscitation room awestruck and overwhelmed.

“I was constantly asking the nurse what his vitals are just so I could know he was alive.”

Two nursing aides gave the two older children popsicles and entertained them while the neurosurgery team explained to Jillian and Mike that Mitchell’s CT scan revealed the largest epidural hematoma (blood accumulation between the skull and the membrane covering the brain) they had ever seen in a baby. Mitchell needed urgent neurosurgery for the brain bleed and a blood transfusion.

From the emergency room, Mitchell was moved directly to the surgical floor of HSC Children’s Hospital where surgeons performed the life-saving brain surgery. Mitchell was then moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to be monitored closely by specially trained intensive care nurses.

“He was intubated, and every beacon of the monitors scared us. “

But after 12 hours in PICU post surgery, an MRI, to their surprise, showed a perfectly healthy brain with no damage. Mitchell was stable and moved to a recovery ward. Four days later, Mitchell was discharged.

“It was an absolute miracle,” says Jillian.

The ordeal was overwhelming for the family, but Jillian says it also taught her how important Children’s Hospital Emergency Department is for ensuring the correct care happens at the start of the medical journey for any child and family going through an emergency.

“The doctors that saved Mitchell are our forever heroes…we associate positive memories with all the bewilderment and joy that was had with the doctors and staff of what a remarkable recovery he made. It made us feel that these people are truly in the right role to be so compassionate.”

She says she is thankful for all the care she received and hopes any other families who might need this care, when they least expect it, can “keep hope, keep faith, trust the doctors, equipment and knowledge. Recoveries are possible.” Help kids like Mitchell get the urgent care they need. Donate today.

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