To look at her now, you’d never know that little Dawsyn Malo spent the first 132 days of her life under round-the-clock care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), in the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care at Regina General Hospital (RGH).
“I started bleeding towards the end of the 24th week in July of last year (2020), so we thought we should get that checked out,” explains Dawsyn’s mother Dani. “My husband Steven and I drove into Regina from our farm near Wolseley for what we thought would be a routine visit. It turned out to be anything but routine!”
Dani was admitted to the hospital right away. Five days later, Dawsyn was born by emergency C-section. She weighed only one pound and nine ounces, and faced several medical challenges. She had a small brain bleed, a patent ductus arteriosus, or open blood vessel in the heart (both of which healed on their own), and she needed help breathing. Fortunately, that only required a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, rather than intubation.
“I woke up after the delivery, and the medical team had already taken Dawsyn away,” Dani explains. “That was terrifying, as I didn’t even know if the baby was alive or what the gender was! Thankfully, everything was under control.”
Dawsyn’s long stay at the NICU wasn’t without a few bumps on the road to improving enough to go home. At 44 days, she contracted a strep infection that developed into sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's response to an infection damages its own tissues. She then had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator, and was closely monitored for signs of meningitis, which fortunately did not materialize. Prior to being discharged, Dawsyn also had episodes of apnea, where she would have pauses in breathing for more than 15 seconds and bradycardia (slower than normal heart rate). The fluctuation in these events contributed to a “NICU rollercoaster” where Dawsyn would improve enough to be weaned off the CPAP machine onto high-flow oxygen through a nose tube and then be set back and needing to rely on the CPAP machine again. Throughout this all, our NICU medical teams never stopped making sure she had the best care possible. Not surprisingly, Dani gushes about the tremendous care she and Dawson received during their time at RGH.
“The staff in the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care, the staff in the NICU, all the doctors and nurses were just fantastic,” Dani says. “They were so patient in explaining what was going on. I think it’s important for everyone in southern Saskatchewan to do whatever they can to support their incredible work, including supporting the fundraising efforts of Hospitals of Regina Foundation. After all, you never know when it is going to be you that needs these life-saving services”.
Dawsyn was finally able to go home in November, 2020, and today she’s loving life on the farm with her parents and their animals, including a herd of bison. The only reminder of her adventure is a feeding tube that Dani hopes will be removed soon.
“Dawsyn’s story perfectly highlights why the Foundation invests in life-saving technology for Regina’s NICU,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Over 500 babies each year and their families rely on our ability to provide that care right here at home, in order to help them go home and live better lives.”