Tyler Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Roxanne was 27 weeks pregnant when her water broke. Doctors in her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie rushed her to the nearest hospital with an open bed that could care for Roxanne and her son. “The hospital in Sault Ste. Marie couldn’t facilitate a child that premature,” she says.
Roxanne arrived at London Health Sciences Centre at 12 am. The doctors that assessed her determined her son was in fetal distress and Roxanne would need to have an emergency C-section – Tyler was born at 3:23 am, weighing just two pounds.
Because he was so premature, Tyler was kept in hospital to monitor his development. At only three weeks old, Tyler had surgery to close a heart valve that typically closes on its own near the end of pregnancy.
After four months, Tyler and Roxanne were preparing to return to Sault Ste. Marie when Tyler’s health took a turn. “I stepped out of the room for a minute and when I came back, the emergency team was there.” Tyler had exhausted himself and had to be resuscitated.
“Looking back, if we didn’t have Hope Air, I don’t know what we would have done."
Tyler was diagnosed with vocal fold paralysis of both of his vocal cords – a rare and dangerous condition that can make breathing difficult. Tyler would have to undergo a tracheotomy to receive a tube in his trachea to help him breathe, but because he was so young, doctors had to wait to perform the procedure. “He had to grow before he could get a tracheostomy, so he spent three weeks in the paediatric critical care unit.” After the tracheostomy, Tyler was transferred to the paediatric ward where he spent six weeks while Roxanne completed training on how to care for a trached infant.
After more than five months in the hospital, Tyler and Roxanne finally headed back to Sault Ste. Marie. Though it was good to finally be home, they would need to return to London to see Tyler’s specialists. Tyler and Roxanne don’t have a car, and travelling by ground with a friend would mean stopping often to check on Tyler.
Fortunately, a social worker mentioned Hope Air, so Roxanne called to request a flight. Ever since, Roxanne and Tyler have been flying with Hope Air. “We usually end up with a VPP [Volunteer Pilot Program] flight. He loves going on the plane. He loves to fly,” says Roxanne. “We get the same pilots over and over again. We get to know them and they get to know Tyler.”
Roxanne is grateful to have heard of Hope Air. “Looking back, if we didn’t have Hope Air, I don’t know what we would have done. We were lucky that the social worker told us about Hope Air so that we didn’t have to think about that stressor. Hope Air has made it much easier to get to London and back,” she says.
Tyler is now six years old and doing well.
“He got bigger and stronger and some of his problems have gone away. He used to see four specialists, but now he just has one doctor that he sees,” says Roxanne.
Tyler still has his tracheostomy – doctors have tried to remove the tube and monitored Tyler’s ability to breathe without it. “He was fine during the day, but his breathing became very noisy and laboured when he was sleeping, so they put it back in.” Tyler will have to continue to see his doctors in London, as they try to figure out what is causing Tyler’s difficulty breathing without his tracheostomy.
In the meantime, Tyler is just like any other six-year-old and is celebrating his recent graduation from senior kindergarten.