Lisa Kitch often reflects on how her family’s lives could have taken a much different path were it not for the tremendous care her daughter, Emerson, has received from Regina’s Pediatric Services.
Emerson’s inspiring journey began five years ago. At 26 weeks she entered the world via emergency caesarian section, weighing a mere 1 lb 13 oz. Lisa and her husband, Travis, affectionately recall how their little bundle of joy was no bigger than a ’12-inch ruler.’
“Six and half months into my pregnancy, I suffered a placental abruption that caused severe bleeding. It impacted my health to the point where I was going to die if my baby wasn’t delivered,” says Lisa. “The medical team prepared us the best they could, but we didn’t fully appreciate just how tiny and precious she would be once she was born.”
Emerson would spend 103 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), undergoing a long list of tests and treatment designed to give her a fighting chance. For Lisa and Travis, the first 24 hours were admittedly the most difficult. With her fragile little body struggling to get going, she had to be resuscitated three times.
“Our initial optimism quickly turned to concern. Things were not looking great,” she admits. “As any parent can relate, it was really painful to see our little girl fighting so hard. We felt helpless, but even in moments like that, reality does set in. The thought definitely entered our minds that we may need to begin planning her funeral.”
Thankfully, Emerson was a fighter and against all odds, she grew stronger with each passing day. During her stay in the NICU she overcame a collapsed lung, an infection and a severely underdeveloped digestive system.
We have always considered her to be our tiny miracle. Even so, sometimes miracles need a helping hand," she says. “She is with us today because of the world-class pediatrics program that has been built in this community. Throughout our entire experience, there was no place I would rather have been and no one else that I would have trusted more to provide her with the care she required.
Early on, Emerson was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that impairs muscle coordination, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. While it was a setback, Lisa appreciates the fact that excellent care for Emerson has always been readily available.
“Regina’s Pediatric Services are second to none,” she says. “The programs and resources available to parents and their children are invaluable. It is reassuring to learn from the best when it comes to caring for our daughter and understanding her own unique developmental needs.”
In 2016, more than 17,000 patients, like Emerson, benefitted from outpatient pediatric services provided at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre (WRC). Every year, Hospitals of Regina Foundation invests in pediatrics to ensure quality care is available for children in need. This same care has played an important role in Emerson’s ongoing development. She meets with a pediatrician regularly to monitor her progress. She also continues to participate in the physical and occupational therapy programs at WRC. Significant focus has been placed on helping her become more mobile. She recently progressed from the use of a walker to walking short distances with canes – allowing her to become increasingly independent.
Today, Emerson is a happy and energetic five-year-old girl with a passion for life. At any given time, she is actively involved in a wide range of activities, from singing and acting, to soccer and ballet. Having the opportunity to celebrate these special moments will always mean the world to Lisa, Travis and her big sister, Sawyer.
"Emerson believes that everyone who has helped her along the way is her friend," says Lisa. “This amazing group of ‘friends’ has had such a positive and lasting impact on our lives. Thanks to your support – as doctors, nurses, specialists and supporters of the Foundation – you have ensured that she is able to live life to the fullest.”