An important part of the event is sharing stories that highlight the need for specific life-saving machines.
One of those machines is the jet ventilator. In basic terms, it provides continuous, tiny puffs of air which keep premature babies breathing. Often, these babies are in the NICU and sometimes the jet ventilator is used during surgery.
“He wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that equipment,” says Janielle Braid. Her son Logan was born 10 weeks premature and weighed only two pounds.
Logan was born with a rare condition commonly known as CDH.
“You have a hole in your diaphragm and your organs grow in your chest cavity,” Braid explains, adding it has “a grim diagnosis. They give you about a 50 per cent chance to survive.”
Doctors were prepared for that. But they weren’t expecting another surprise involving Logan’s esophagus.
Dr. Andrea Lo is Logan’s pediatric surgeon.
“Logan had a break in it where the upper part just ended,” Lo said. “The lower part of the esophagus coming up from the stomach plugged into the trachea.”
Logan had to have multiple surgeries — four just in his first four weeks of life. The first took place in the NICU out of fear he was too fragile to survive being transported.
An emotional Braid says she “had to say goodbye multiple times.”
But thankfully, aiding the doctors was the jet ventilator, which helped them work their magic better than ever.
The jet ventilator allowed Dr. Lo to perform her surgical moves in a continuous fashion, without having to make multiple stops for Logan’s lungs to fill with air, as is the case with a traditional ventilator. Those tiny puffs kept the lungs inflated while she carried on open-chest operation.
That’s a crucial advantage, given the miniscule space she was working in.
“The esophagus is probably about half of my finger,” Lo explains. She wore magnifying glasses in order to make the incisions and connections with proper precision.
The jet ventilator kept the lungs breathing, but not too inflated, which gave her more space.
“It helps with the overall gentleness and care of these tiny premature babies. And from a surgical perspective, it makes it a lot easier,” says Lo.
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When the stakes are this high, being gentle can be the difference between life and death.
“That was the only ventilator he could breathe on,” adds Braid. “They started out on the more conventional ventilator. It punctured a hole in his stomach. They thought he was going to die.”
But Logan survived. In fact, he is now a thriving, happy three-year-old. He likes to play and run around.
“He’s just a regular go-getter kind of kid,” says a grateful Braid. “It’s really a miracle.”
Miracles happen every day at Alberta Children’s Hospital. And the radiothon ensures that will never change.
The radiothon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. To date, it has raised $42 million for Alberta Children’s Hospital.
To donate, tune in to Country 105 FM or visit the Alberta Children’s Hospital website.