MILESTONE, Sask. – When Jennifer Brown gave birth to her first baby, doctors knew something was wrong.
Little Carter was born with fractured legs and dislocated hips.
At three weeks old, he was diagnosed with brittle bone disease, meaning his body is extremely fragile.
“It was something so simple as rolling him on his side, that would break his humerus,” Jennifer explained.
Local doctors didn’t have the expertise to help him and the outlook was bleak. Without specialized treatment, baby Carter’s bones would keep fracturing over and over again.
“Then you have curved bones that he can’t possibly try and stand on because they’d just break as soon as he’d stand,” she said.
As a new mom, Jennifer was desperate for an answer. “At that point all you want to do is get help for your son. Do something.”
That’s when she received a life changing phone call from another mom whose son also suffered from the same condition.
She told them about the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal, where her son was receiving treatment and surgery to strengthen his bones and reduce his pain.
Jennifer wasted no time. She called the Shriners asking for help and within weeks, the family was flown to Montreal for treatment on the Shriners’ dime.
“We will send a child as needed. It all depends on what the treatment plan is as developed by the hospital,” said Howard Louie, Shriners Hospital Chair for Saskatchewan.
“I, of course, was on maternity leave. So looking ahead at years of all these costs was something we had not really planned for,” said Jennifer.
At just 8-years-old, Carter has been flown to Montreal 45 times to see specialists.
“They mean the world to me,” he said. “They helped me make my bones strong so I can play on the playground with my friends.”
Without the treatments, his life would be very different.
“I wouldn’t even be walking and doing the things I am today,” he said. “I like to run, jump, play with my friends – sometimes do karate.”
The kindness he was shown by Shriners volunteers and medical staff will never be forgotten. They’ve had such a lasting impact, Carter wants to be a nurse when he grows up.
While it might be a few decades before that dream comes true, the little boy is wasting no time showing his appreciation.
He’s travelled North America speaking for the Shriners and raising money for their new hospital, to help others walking in his shoes.
“They’ve done so much for me and I want to give back,” he explained.
Carter isn’t the only kid the Shriners are supporting. Across Saskatchewan they’re supporting 85 children with all kinds of different physical conditions.