Ashton and Aiden were born one month premature. They were finally home together for five days following different length of stays in the NICU in Red Deer when Ashton wouldn’t breastfeed or take a bottle. Cassandra thought maybe he had an upset stomach, so she tried various things new moms are told to try. But when he was taking a four-hour nap without waking to feed, she started to really worry. She woke him up and called Health Link who suggested she call 911 when he began to look limp.
EMS arrived and in her living room gave him oxygen. When they tried to prick his heel to take a blood sample, he didn’t flinch at all. EMS took him to hospital where he was given a cocktail of antibiotics suspecting he had an infection. Cassandra remembers laying on the table with her baby who seemed lifeless. Even when he was given an NG tube up his nose, again he wouldn’t flinch. Doctors conducted a video conference with experts at the Alberta Children’s Hospital who determined he needed to get to Calgary right away, so they called the donor-funded Pediatric Critical Care Transport team to get him. Cassandra and Travis, with Aiden at home with her mom, had to rush home to pack a bag, and pick up Aiden before driving to Calgary, completely unaware what was wrong with their little Ashton. Through the stressful situation, Cassandra remembers how comforting it was to receive text messages from the Transport team while they safely took him to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
When Cassandra met Ashton at the hospital, he looked lifeless. He had to be intubated and hooked up to machines, but she could see he was surrounded by experts working quickly to take care of him. A couple days later they received a diagnosis: Ashton had contracted Bacterial Meningitis – a potentially life-threatening infection of the spinal fluid that affects the brain. Thankfully, doctors were able to give him the right antibiotic to start killing the infection, which had settled in his stomach affecting his digestion.
Ashton stayed in the PICU for five days, where Cassandra remembers the love and support of the kind nurses – one of whom gifted Ashton and his brother matching Lion King stuffed animals so while apart, they could still feel together. Because Covid restrictions prevented Cassandra from bringing Aiden to hospital, she had to leave Ashton to go feed Aiden at her mom’s house in Calgary. The stress of having to pump milk for one baby and be by the side of her other was eased thanks to those nurses who always made her feel like when she had to leave Ashton, she was leaving him in the best hands. One nurse even told her, “This isn’t just my job.” Following a stay in Red Deer hospital, Ashton was able to go home to finish his recovery on IV antibiotics. Today, he is a growing boy who is learning to crawl and eating very well again!
Cassandra and Travis don’t have enough words to express their gratitude to the Transport team and experts and nurses at the Alberta Children’s Hospital who helped save their baby boy.
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