Stories - Donors

Giving Back To Those Who Saved Their Son

Imagine being told your 2 day old child is unlikely to survive.

It was January 30th, 1976, when Allan and Kerry Bartlett learned that their newborn son Bryan had contracted spinal meningitis and things were not looking good.

“When we learned about the meningitis, we were told right from the start that they didn’t expect him to live,” recalls Allan.

It was an odd twist of fate that brought baby Bryan to Children’s Hospital in the first place. Following a fairly textbook pregnancy, Kerry’s first born decided to show up about 5 weeks early.

“Everything was fine until he was born,” remembers Kerry. “They noticed right away that he had a bowel obstruction and was immediately transferred to Children’s Hospital. I’m guessing that’s probably why he decided to come early.”

A day or two after surgery to clear the blockage, while still in intensive care, Bryan developed spinal meningitis. The fact that he was already in Children’s Hospital likely saved the baby’s life.

“If Bryan hadn’t already been there, they may not have been able to get to him in time,” remembers Allan. “Doctors wanted to try this new drug, so we said to go ahead, and it ended up saving his life.”

Even 40 years later dad Allan can remember the terrifying nature of having a gravely ill newborn.

“We were stunned. It was our first child and we really didn’t know what else to do,” recalls Allan. “So we just spent our days going back and forth to the hospital and trusted that everything would work out.”

Miraculously, Bryan responded to treatment and steadily improved. The tiny newborn would spend his first 5 weeks at Children’s Hospital.

“As each week went by he was getting better and better”, remembers Kerry. “But we never really felt out of the woods until the day we took him home.”

Bryan did eventually go home, and the Bartlett’s went on to add 2 other healthy children to their family. They have never forgotten how differently things could have turned out if not for Children’s Hospital.

“Our financial situation got to the point where we had some money to give and so we started to give back to Children’s Hospital,” explains Allan. ““Because of our experience with Bryan and recognizing the fact that it was research that discovered the drug that saved our son’s life, our reason for donating is to keep that research going. We wouldn’t have Bryan without it.”

Kerry echoes her husband’s appreciation for ongoing research at Children’s Hospital.

“It was an experimental drug, and he happened to take to it,” says Kerry. “They obviously tried others first, but nothing helped. This experimental drug was the first one that he responded to. They never would have had it without research, and without the drug we wouldn’t have our son.”

It is that gratitude to Children’s Hospital that has compelled the Bartlett’s to be monthly donors for the last 26 years. It’s also the reason they will continue to give.

“It’s been proven to us that research is a key ingredient of patient care, and you just don’t know when that research could save someone you love,” says Allan. “You can’t carry out research without funding, so that’s really what we have in mind for our donations.”

Looking back on their experience the Bartlett’s fondly remember the peace that came with knowing their son was receiving excellent care.

“I do remember that the doctors and nurses were great about answering all of our questions,” says Kerry. “We always felt Bryan was being well taken care of, and I know that if it hadn’t been for the Children’s Hospital we would certainly have lost him.”

Humble and soft-spoken, the Bartlett’s are committed to supporting sick kids.

“Even if you don’t have any direct experience with Children’s Hospital, I feel like it’s our duty to help. If it weren’t for people giving money for research our lives would have been completely different because Bryan wouldn’t be here,” says Allan. “As long as we are financially able we will continue to support the Children’s Hospital.”

Donate today to ensure newborns like Bryan continue to receive life-saving treatment. Donations to the Children’s Hospital Foundation have helped fund cutting edge research in child health.

Support today as sick children need us now.


The Bartlett Family: Bryan, Allan, Tracy, Kerry & Darcy