Meet Olivia

Sometimes when I look at my daughter Olivia, I think, “How is she so brave?”

Daily, my husband John and I are inspired by our daughter’s courage. And I think you will be too.

Eight weeks before Olivia was due, doctors at our local hospital in Brandon discovered that she had a serious heart problem. I was immediately air lifted to Children’s Hospital. Two weeks later, our baby was born weighing just three pounds.

As soon as Olivia was born, the team united to save her life. You see, as well as her heart issue, her esophagus was unattached. She couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying.

Olivia was rushed into surgery within half an hour of being born — the surgeons performed temporary fixes for both her esophagus and her heart to save her life.

After heart surgery out of province, we came back to the NICU at Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg for a month. Then we went home to Brandon for a few months.

At four months old Olivia had surgery on her esophagus. Unfortunately, her lungs collapsed, and she had to be put on a ventilator. She spent 7 weeks in the NICU. Later she developed pneumonia and her heart swelled. We nearly lost her. She was put back on a ventilator for another eight weeks.

I can’t tell you the number of times that the miracle workers at Children’s Hospital saved our baby girl’s life. But it became clear that Olivia would never be strong enough for surgery to fix her esophagus. During one procedure she coded Blue. It was really emotional for all the care providers, including the doctor. A whole team of nurses gathered in her room while we waited to see the outcome.

Many medical teams would have given up at this point — but not the folks at our Children’s Hospital! They found a surgery that had never been performed in Canada before. Dr. Keijzer didn’t give up until he got the approval to have it performed on Olivia!

If you can believe it, the surgery involved magnets. One magnet was inserted in Olivia’s mouth, and the other in her G-tube, bringing her esophagus together. I know it sounds nearly impossible, doesn’t it? But it worked!

As a huge gift to all of us, on her birthday a bit later, Olivia was up and happy. She even spat up! It’s hard to explain how happy we were about baby spit-up! I don’t have the words to describe what it feels like to be told your child has a serious illness — let alone two. In all honesty, it’s hard to talk about.

What I do want to talk about is the amazing care Olivia was given by the medical team at Children’s Hospital. These doctors and nurses went to the end of the world and back for Olivia. I will remember each one’s face and each one’s heart.

I’ll remember your heart too. That’s because I think you have a heart of gold for all the care and support you give to these children that you don’t even know. As a mother who almost lost her child, all I can say is thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all you’ve done to support this special hospital. If you’re able, please consider making a donation today, to put urgently-needed equipment in the hands of the doctors who are saving young lives, right this very minute.