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Family Stories

If you’ve had an experience with Northern BC or East Kootenay Friends of Children, we encourage you to share it with us. Please describe your medical journey and how Friends of Children supported you or continues to support you during this stressful time. By sharing your personal experience on our website you’re not only promoting awareness about our free assistance but also helping us to connect with other families in need. Your submissions are greatly appreciated.  

To submit your story, please email Kelly@friendsofchildren.ca.

 

The relief of knowing there is help

Our medical journey started with the preterm appearance of our 4th child in August of 2020. While we spent almost three weeks in the Lethbridge NICU watching our beautiful baby girl get stronger each day we also were informed that she did not pass her new born hearing test. As our main concern was getting her to eat and breath at the same time and getting her off the oxygen she was on 24/7, it didn't seem like the biggest life threating detail. 

Fast forward to us finally being able to take our baby home to meet her other brothers and sister, we were directed to follow up with the audiologist in Lethbridge who would do a more in-depth hearing test to gauge the extent of hearing loss. We are from a small town across the BC border so it would require us to travel back into Alberta for initial follow up. 

We had our first ABR (auditory brainstem response) hearing test in October where we were informed that she would require more testing by the audiology clinic in the BC children's hospital in Vancouver. 

At this point we were sure our baby was indeed deaf and we would do whatever it would take to have her have a successful life. We started looking into different American sign language classes and resources, we got the referral for the BCCH and waited for a date. 

In the mean time our baby also had a few other scary medical occurences (one where we had to call 911 because she had stopped breathing due to a possible seizure). We had great support from our Doctor and she got referrals in for us to see not only Audiology, but also Opthalmology, Neurology, Cardiology, and medical genetics while we were at the BCCH. 

When we got to Vancouver and saw the different specialists, we were given the news that our daughter was born profoundly deaf in both ears, not just hard of hearing. We were told that the likely hood of hearing aids being any benefit was slim. 

Thankfully the other specialists were able to give us the all clear after a few exams, EEG, ECG, eye exams, etc. Even genetics came back after the 12 weeks of waiting with the results that her condition was not genetic. 

We did more testing on her ears in the next few months and we were fitted for hearing aids in January 2021. 

We started the process of seeing if our daughter was a cochlear implant candidate and after a few months of waiting and doing behaviour testing with the hearing aids in we were told she did indeed qualify for the Cochlear implant surgery. We were also able to find out the reason that our baby had all these medical issues when our other 3 children had absolutely nothing medically wrong. Through further testing of her new born blood samples she was identified as CMV possitive at birth (Cytomegalovirus), meaning that at some point while I was pregnant with her I contracted this very common virus that presents itself like the common cold. It has many potential complications for a pregnant woman and if contracted for the first time while pregnant it has an 80% chance of being passed on to the baby in utero. One of the major side effects is hearing loss in babies. 

With all the information we were given and the different options looked at we decided to go ahead with the implant surgery and give our baby the only chance she would have to be able to have sound in her life. The surgery and all the follow up would be at the BCCH where their cochlear implant department will be her long term team until she turns 18 years old. We are having to travel the 12 hours across the province many times in the next few years and as you can imagine the financial burden would be alot to handle alone for a single income family of 6. Friends of Children has already helped us in getting to her surgery that was in June and other appointments in the last 6 months and is going to be there helping us get to her other appointments where our daughter will be on the path to having access to the world of sound. 

We have been so impressed with how easy it has been to work with them and how helpful and caring Friends of Children has been. It helped make our decision to go ahead with the surgery easier knowing the amount of follow up we would have to do and that there was help out there for us. 

Thank you so much! 

The Thiel Family

 

 

 

 

Taking the Financial Stress Away

Hello,

My family has had incredible support from friends of children and I would love to share our story.

My name is Stephanie, I'd like to share our story and experience with Friends of Children to help others going through a difficult time and also to share awareness of this amazing organization.

In February 2016, my fiance Tyler and I found out we were expecting. After suffering two miscarriages in the past we were very excited to find out we had another chance. Everything seemed to be going well until we went for an ultrasound at about 19 weeks. We found out we were having a girl, but the ultrasound tech seemed to be holding something back. He asked us a couple of times to double check how far along we were. We had to wait to hear the report from the ultrasound from our OGBYN. The doctor told us that our baby was measuring a couple of weeks behind, which happens a lot but there was also an issue with blood flow. Along with that, my blood pressure was consistently and alarmingly high. He wanted us to go to Calgary for a second opinion. We went to the health sciences center attached to Foothills Medical Center. The specialist there told us that the outcome of the restricted blood flow and high blood pressure most likely was that our little baby was not going to make it past the next few weeks of the pregnancy. At first, they had suggested being admitted to the hospital at just about 21 weeks to be constantly monitored, but after discussing it further we decided to come back for weekly ultrasounds. Every week was the same thing, our little baby was falling further behind the growth curve because she wasn't getting enough nutrients from my placenta. Every week, she gained a little bit. Whether it was 80 grams or 100 grams, we took every growth we could. Every week, we were told that things were looking bleak. I was 27 weeks and 1 day when I was admitted to Foothills Medical Center after having our weekly ultrasound. I was given two doses of steroids to help our baby's lungs have a chance of working when she would be born. 3 days later, our sweet Hailey Michelle was born weighing 1lb 2.5oz via emergency c section. She was 27 weeks and 4 days but was smaller than a 23-week baby. She was immediately taken to the foothills NICU. We had a long journey in the NICU, battling typical preemie struggles. Tyler and I stayed at the Ronald Mc Donald House of Southern Alberta so we could be with her as much as possible. After 116 days, Hailey was finally able to come home, with constant oxygen therapy. She was about 5lbs when she came home but was over 4 months old. We had follow-up appointments through the Alberta Children's Hospital, for oxygen, cardiology and vision. Our weekly appointments eventually worked down to biweekly, then monthly, then every few months until we were able to get rid of Hailey's oxygen therapy when she was 1.5 years old. We had incredible support and still do from a lot of people. One place that gave us the most support was Friends Of Children. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to stay close to Hailey while she was in the NICU,  and they have continued to support us with travel costs for appointments.

Friends of Children is an amazing organization that helps so many families like my own. We are forever grateful for the help that we have received in our time of need.

On February 10th, 2016 we were blessed with the most perfect granddaughter we could ever wish for. From the time she was born Kendra has been a fighter, never giving up. The delivery was long and hard for our daughter and everything was going well with Kendra on the monitors, but then for some reason, our little angel was born flatlined on delivery and took a while to come to, but thank God came back to us. The doctors had diagnosed Kendra with a heart murmur and thought that her heart just couldn't handle the strain of delivery so Kendra was rushed to Cranbrook hospital for further testing. It wasn't until they involved doctors from Children's Hospital in Calgary that they realized she had a hole in her heart. While in Cranbrook they also found out she had a cleft palate so feeding was a lot more difficult than another baby. We were soon on our way to Calgary Children's Hospital for further testing by specialists. It was determined that Kendra needed heart surgery as quickly as possible to fix the hole in her heart but there was a waiting list. Kendra was also seen by the cleft palate team and a feeding tube was inserted and instructions given to mom on how to change the feeding tube on a weekly basis. The doctors said that they will perform the cleft palate surgery around a year after her heart surgery to make sure that she is good and strong. The heart surgery was to be done in Edmonton, the waiting for a phone call was really hard to handle. After a short time, it was diagnosed that Kendra was going into heart failure and so she was bumped up on the list; now we were really scared watching this precious angel getting weaker and weaker as days go by. We got the phone call and we were off to Edmonton. Her heart surgery went really good and it was found during surgery that she actually had two holes in her heart and they fixed both, she was on her way to getting stronger. Once we were home again Kendra's incision was getting worse and worse and then we were on our way back to Edmonton with an infection in her incision, they needed to go back in and fix the problem. We had multiple more trips to Calgary for check-ups with cardiology and to meet with the cleft palate team for the upcoming surgery to fix the cleft. The cardiology team was very pleased with her heart and that it was now performing the way it is supposed to and Kendra was doing great. So now it is just the cleft palate surgery that is ahead of us and a lot more trips to Calgary before and after that.

Without help from this wonderful organization, we don't know where we would be or if our little sunshine would be doing as good as she is. We had to stay in Edmonton for a week and that trip and all of these trips and hotels and fuel is very expensive since we live 6 hours away from Calgary and 9 hours from Edmonton. Friends of Children helped us and continues to help us with these trips taking the financial stress away and making sure we can get where we need to go when we need to be there. This is such a wonderful organization and we can't thank them enough for all the help.

Friends of Children is such an important organization for children fighting with health challenges, I am not sure where we would be without them.

Yours Truly,
Stuart Durning

Creston Gratitude

Dear Friends of Children,

This is such a great opportunity to be able to share how much our family thinks of this wonderful program. Our son Maximus was born with severe Kidney nephrosis in both kidneys one much more than the other. He needed many trips to the Alberta Children’s Hospital to see his specialists, and the Friends of Children Program helped a great deal. They helped with motel costs and gas for the trips, it was amazing and very unexpected. It gave us a sense that we were not alone in this fight, and was a very welcomed feeling of support from the community and government as well. It was a huge morale boost in a very stressful time in our family’s lives. Maximus is doing much better now and is a very feisty little guy. All of the Trent family would like to thank Friends of Children for all their help and support and advice they have given over the years.

Crystal Trent, West Creston

Supporting medical trips to Alberta

My daughter Brandi was about a year old when she had her first Urinary Tract Infection. It wasn’t until the UTI’s became more frequent that we went to our family doctor who determined something must be causing them. By the time Brandi was 5 she was having UTI’s regularly. At this point we were referred to a visiting pediatrician who referred us back to our doctor with instructions to refer Brandi to a Pediatric Urologist. Upon discussing this with our Family Doctor and doing a little research, our Doctor referred us to Dr. Kiddoo at the Pediatric Urology Clinic in the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton, AB.

Brandi’s initial intake appointment was in April 2012. Our next appointment was for testing & diagnosis with Dr. Kiddoo in September 2012. After our daughter had a cystogram we were informed that she had Grade 2 Reflux into her Right Kidney. And that she would need to come back for a full kidney scan to check for damages/scarring as that type of scan isn’t available up north. After this appointment we returned home with a plan for Brandi: antibiotics taken daily to prevent infection, closely monitoring her diet and waiting to see if she would outgrow the condition.

Initially we called the first place that came to mind, the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton. They were able to get us a discount rate at hotels in Edmonton for Brandi’s April & September appointments. But that was as much as they could do to help. It was at this point we realized we could not afford to keep traveling to Edmonton for these trips as each trip was costing us $500 for hotel, gas & food; plus time off of work so Jason could stay home with our son. And our families were not able to help us financially. So I went online to the local Dawson Creek Mom’s Facebook group and asked what was out there for helping families with children requiring medical care in Edmonton. The response I got was great! I was told about Friends of Children, how to contact them and how they help by paying for hotels, gas costs & parking near the hospital.

We were so grateful to find this information! The day after I found this information the Stollery called us & had an opening in one week (October 2012) for the scan. I immediately called Kelly Sharp and began the process of getting help thru Friends of Children. We would not have been able to afford going back for the testing so quickly had it not been for F of C.

In February 2013 Brandi’s condition worsened and the UTI’s were happening again & more frequently. The antibiotics were no longer working. So we called the Peds Urology clinic and they booked Brandi an appointment with Dr. Kiddoo at the Stollery for the end of March 2013. Again F or C was able to pay for a hotel stay and the cost of gas/parking for the trip. At this appointment we discussed that she was not getting any better, but actually worsening. After much discussion Dr. Kiddoo recommended a minimally invasive procedure called Deflux as well as a cystoscopy. Brandi’s surgery was booked for May 1, 2013.

Again F of C was able to help us cover the cost of the trip to Edmonton for our daughter’s surgery. Now 2 months later Brandi’s health has improved drastically. And we are hopeful that the procedure worked, but only time will tell. Our next appointment will be either in a year or if another Urinary Tract Infection occurs.

We never would have come this far had we not found Friends of Children. By paying for hotels, gas & parking they make it possible for families like us to get our children the medical attention they need. And they are the only organization that does this for Northern BC families with children requiring medical attention in Edmonton or Vancouver.

Thank you again Friends of Children & Kelly for all that you have done for our family!

Sincerely,
the Wry Family

Help is Close to Home!

Almost 2 years ago, my daughter (then 6 years old) started getting symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis.

There was a strain of a stomach flu virus plaguing her elementary school at that time. All the kids that had this flu bounced back really quickly, while my daughter progressively got worse. Over the course of weeks to come, her symptoms becoming worse, not better, we had been testing her for as many things as we could to try and find out why she wasn’t getting better.

After almost 5 months of tests in Prince George and countless appointments we finally were told to go to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver as the next step would be a colonoscopy/endoscope (but they couldn’t do this here for children). All other testing we did locally could not identify her ailment.

She turned 7 at Children’s Hospital the day of her procedure. It was her birthday on the day she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

This trip was the first of many more to come for my daughter having to travel from Prince George to Vancouver every 6 weeks for Remicade IV treatments to try and get her symptoms into remission! We are still trying to accomplish this today.

One thing for sure, we could not have made these frequent trips to Vancouver without the help from Friends of Children!

We were told that there was a wonderful organization here in Prince George that is full of support for families with children who need help getting medical attention outside of their city. An organization that helps families with funding for meals, travel costs, therapies for children, as well as drug prescriptions, out of town accommodations, and so much more.

Thank you Friends of Children for helping us get the attention my daughter needs, we are blessed to have such a wonderful non profit organization available to us!

For all you mom’s who have children that need medical attention outside of your city, please contact Friends Of Children, they are there to help your family get the best available care for your sick child.

Make sure to come down to Spruce Kings game Friday or Saturday night Nov 23rd and 24th and find out how this amazing non profit foundation helps Children get medical attention!

Kathy Samaai

Friends of Children Aid Telkwa Family

Dear Friends of Children,

Our 2 1/2 year old son has had difficulty sitting at the table in a regular chair or booster seat because of low muscle tone and tingling feet. For the past few months he had not been able to sit through a meal with the family, and would be in and out of his seat, sometimes standing at the table to eat, and sometimes not eating at all. After researching supportive chairs, we knew we needed one, but the finances were not there to purchase it. Mealtimes were stressful for the entire family.

Four days ago we received the longed-for chair, a gift from your organization, through our local Child Development Center. Problem solved. Our son loves his chair and stays in it, finishing his meals for the first time in months. He says “I love my chair!” We are so happy to have interactive and fun mealtimes once again. Thank you so much!

Sarah & Rick

From Cranbrook with Love

Friends Of Children

Our daughter Quinn was born 15 weeks premature. She weighed in at a hefty 830g, which is 1lb 14oz. Nothing can prepare you for having a baby in the NICU unit hoping they will survive and beat the odds. My fiancé and I live 4 hours from the hospital Quinn was at so the only option was to stay until she was discharged after 84days. Friends of Children helped make this possible in so many ways through their financial support by helping us with housing cost, parking and other needs. Their dedicated staff was always friendly and supportive. This amazing organization helped Quinn have what she needed, her parents by her side daily as she fought through the many challenges of being premature. Quinn is now 10months old and 18lbs and we just had our first Christmas as a family. She loves to smile, roll over, play and cuddle with her Dad! The Friends of Children organization continues to support us financially as Quinn has many appointments at the Children’s Hospital. We will be forever grateful to Friends Of Children for their support both financially and emotionally in what was one of the most trying times for our new family.

Angela, Jeff and Quinn

Friends of Children support Quesnel family

Quesnel triplets receive help from NBC FOC

A Family Says Thank You

August 03, 2011

Thank you so much for your help. We did not know who to turn to when our doctor told us our daughter, Emily, would need at least a month recovery at BC Children’s Hospital. Friends of Children connected us with other charities to lessen the financial strain surrounding our daughter’s medical condition. We have started the process to get her flights and assistance with food plus accommodation for us when she is in the hospital. It’s hard to put our thanks into words, but we are so grateful for all the support you have given us!

Thanks

Fernie Family Thank-you

Dear Friends of Children Society,

This thanks is long overdue but no less heartfelt! Thank you so much for our assistance in paying for our accommodation while our baby was in the NICU at Surrey Memorial Hospital last June. Our 2 day old son was transferred from Fernie to Cranbrook with a fever and abnormal blood work, then transferred the same day by BC Air Ambulance to the new NICU in Surrey where we spent 5 heart wrenching days, waiting for a diagnosis and receiving treatment with IV antibiotics and antivirals. Although he recovered quickly in the NICU, that was a terrifying time for us. However, the care, support and help that we received from the medical professionals and charities like your own, made it so much more bearable. It was such a relief to not have to worry about the financial strain of paying for hotel accommodations while we were so far from home, and dealing with the extreme stress of having a sick newborn baby. We feel so lucky to have been helped by all of you, and to have access to such amazing care when we needed it the most. We are happy to report that … is now a healthy, happy, 51/2 month old baby boy. Thank you so much for helping us make the best of a difficult time and especially for helping us bring home a healthy son!