Stefano’s Stories: You help babies heal and go home

October 2023

At Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, families are at the heart of everything we do. I am so often amazed by the courage of families who come forward to share their stories at HSC Children’s Hospital to help others, like Kai’s mom who bravely opened up about her family’s journey.

In the first 108 days of Kai’s life, he fought for every breath. Born at 2 pounds, 10 ounces at 27 weeks by emergency C-section, he was rushed from labour and delivery to the healthcare specialists in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at HSC Children’s Hospital.

Let me tell you more about what Kai, and his parents Nathalie and Codey, have been through.

Nathalie, Kai’s Métis mother, had an odd feeling about her second pregnancy. Only a year earlier, Kai’s older brother Noah was stillborn, so Nathalie carefully tracked her second pregnancy – every movement in her belly and heart rate readings. During a routine pregnancy check-up at HSC Women’s Hospital, the healthcare team detected decreased movement in the womb and a slowed heart rate – all significant markers to the prenatal specialists and Nathalie as signs of something more to come.

Immediately, the healthcare team performed the C-section and quickly placed newborn Kai on their tiniest ventilator to keep his underdeveloped lungs from collapsing. Doctors told Nathalie that the lungs are the last of the vital organs to develop in the womb. As a premature baby, Kai’s lungs needed additional support through ventilators and specialized treatments.

After three weeks, the healthcare team changed his treatment to a continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP), a machine that stabilizes air pressure in the lungs. Two weeks into the new treatment, they noticed tears on the skin of Kai’s nose and septum. To prevent further damage, specialists updated his treatment to high-flow oxygen therapy, a treatment that delivers oxygen at a higher flow rate than standard oxygen therapy. Due to being born prematurely, Kai now has permanent lung damage and will need to be monitored throughout his life.

Despite his health challenges, Kai is now like most two-year-old children – running around, playing outside, and enjoying just being a kid.

Nathalie credits Kai’s recovery to the dedicated nurses and doctors at the NICU for their exceptional care and patience.

In the event of another child or problems with Kai’s health, Nathalie knows the NICU team will be by their side the entire way.

Kai, Nathalie and Codey now live in Ste. Anne, Manitoba. Nathalie says Kai continues to do well, enjoying all sorts of outdoor activities like swimming, playing in the sandbox, ball pits and his new favourite toy – a water table.

Generous donors help fund critical life-saving equipment in the NICU, the same equipment that saved Kai’s life. Some of these specialized tools include a point-of-care ultrasound, a machine that allows care providers to learn more about their tiny babies’ conditions without having to move them for testing.

Right now, the dedicated team in the NICU urgently needs equipment like this point-of-care ultrasound machine and Babyleo incubators to protect premature babies and help them grow. You can support kids like Kai with a donation today at

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