Just as Radiothon 2020 was nearing the end of its journey inside the Alberta Children’s Hospital, little Alexia was just beginning hers there. Alexia, then 17 months old, was admitted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. She had been extremely tired and clingy. She didn’t want to eat. Something was wrong. At first experts thought it was pneumonia, but it became clear something more serious was happening. An echocardiogram would provide answers: It was Alexia’s heart. She was experiencing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, that was brought on by the parvovirus, and her heart were failing.
She needed the expert care of cardiac specialists in Edmonton, and she needed help to get there. Alexia was put on the donor-funded Extracorporeal Life Support machine, or ECLS. ECLS uses heart-lung bypass technology to keep kids’ hearts and lungs working until vital organs can heal. ECLS is a complex, invasive procedure that involves many specialists in the room at the same time – all working together to save the child’s life.
Alexia spent nearly 10 days on ECLS, allowing her heart precious time to recover. She spent nearly a month at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and was transferred back to the PICU at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for observation and to continue her treatment, which included IV medication for heart. It was a rollercoaster ride and had it not been for the combined expertise of both hospitals, Suzanne isn’t sure where her family would be today.
While recovering at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Suzanne said their stay was made a bit more enjoyable thanks to a music therapist who would come and play songs on the guitar for Alexia, and for the nurses and Child Life team members who would bring books and toys and bubbles and crayons to keep little Alexia smiling. Alexia was given Beads of Courage to chronicle her journey, a keepsake that Suzanne will use to tell Alexia her story when she’s older. In the meantime, Alexia is back to her usual happy self – you wouldn’t know that she had experienced something so harrowing – and mom is eternally grateful that she had the experts, technology and care there for her family when they needed it most.
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