April 2012 may go down as one of the scariest months in the life of Kennis Yuk Yee Fung, that month her daughter was born at 26 weeks weighing less than two pounds.
With only a 50 per cent chance of survival at the time Alice is about to celebrate her second birthday, and the role the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital played in Alice being here today isn’t lost on Fung.
“When I went to Women’s Hospital for a check-up I thought I would get checked out and somebody would tell me to go home,” Fung said.
“I just didn’t have a choice to keep her inside any longer; essentially if we kept her in she would have died. When I was being pushed to the operating room I felt like I was responsible for that was happening, even though I couldn’t make sense of it. I just felt, please don’t die.”
Despite spending 70 days in the NICU and facing numerous challenges including a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) bypass surgery, to correct an issue with a tube between her heart and lung that was causing breathing issues and supposed to separate at 28 weeks, Alice is now a healthy and happy child.
“I don’t think myself or Alice would be here without the NICU. To me the NICU didn’t just save Alice, they saved me too. Not just the fact that I can stay alive because my daughter is doing OK, but the fact that every day they were so friendly and attentive,” Fung said.
“The nurses pay a lot of attention when they take care of the babies, they don’t miss anything. As far as I’m concerned I don’t think Alice could have had a better place to start her life. It was tough but it was the best given the circumstances.”
The future for Alice looks bright as she is hitting milestones for a 4-year-old child. She can count from one to twenty, and can speak two languages – though her English is way better than her Cantonese.
“If you meet her she doesn’t seem premature at all, except that she’s smaller. She talks so much these days and does drive me slightly crazy occasionally – but I guess I shouldn’t complain because I am just so thankful that she is alive even though she is so bossy,” she said.
Fung feels sharing her daughters story will help people realize the great work being done at Children’s Hospital and how it makes a difference in so many lives.
“For some people the hospital is a come and go thing, but it has left such a profound impact on me now and for Alice. To me, if not all of them, 99.9 per cent of the nurses and doctors I’ve come across really care about what they do and I think we need to encourage them to share success stories,” Fung said.
“I take Alice back to the NICU to say hello to the nurses and people are so excited to see her, she’s like a poster child there because she was so small when she was born and now she’s running, screaming and laughing. To me she can encourage other parents who think they are stuck there now, but maybe their daughter or son can recover completely just like Alice. There’s always a miracle in the NICU.”