John and Vera Coppola of Calgary cherish the time they spend with their five-year-old Regina based granddaughter, Katherine. Perhaps even more so, considering the traumatic circumstances under which Katherine’s life began.
Katherine is John (who is a semi-retired family doctor) and Vera’s third grandchild, but the first child for their daughter Linda Gartner of Regina and her husband Joel. Of course, the excited grandparents made the trip from Calgary to be there for Katherine’s arrival in May, 2014 at Regina’s General Hospital (RGH). Never did they imagine the life-and-death drama that would ensue.
“Katherine wasn’t breathing and her heart rate was very low requiring active resuscitation, when she was born,” John explains. “The medical team immediately began the process of resuscitating her.”
“I was scared to death, both for my baby (Linda) and her baby (Katherine),” Vera recalls. “You can’t imagine what goes through your mind as a grandmother at a time like that. I still get quite emotional, just thinking about it.”
Katherine required active resuscitation in the delivery room for over 30 minutes before she was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care at RGH, where the medical team worked feverishly to save the tiny life in their hands. Fortunately, after more than a half hour of frantic efforts and assistance from a ventilator, Katherine began breathing on her own and her heart beat became stronger. She spent the next six days growing stronger in the NICU, before being sent home with her family.
“We were so grateful for the care Katherine received while in the NICU.” John says. The calm, comforting nature of the NICU team during such an emotional period was not lost on John and Vera.
“That’s why we started making donations to Hospitals of Regina Foundation, to express our gratitude. We try to support causes that have some meaning or personal connection for us, and this one certainly does!”
Fortunately, there have been no lasting effects from Katherine’s close call. Today, she is a healthy and happy kindergarten student, and enjoys playing with her younger brother and sister, and regaling her grandparents with stories of her many adventures.
“She never stops talking,” Vera proudly explains. “From the moment she wakes up until the time she goes to bed! And she is incredibly smart. We’re so grateful that she’s doing so well.”
“Katherine is one of approximately 500 babies – the tiniest of the tiny – who receive life-saving care each year at Regina’s NICU,” said Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “We’re grateful to John and Vera, and everyone who has supported our efforts to provide the best possible care for mothers and their babies, right here at home.”