Dallen Hodgkin knows that her two-year-old daughter probably shouldn’t be here today. At least that’s what the odds said. But the odds obviously didn’t take into consideration Cali’s fighting spirit, or the dedication of the men and women who work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Regina’s General Hospital.
Cali’s story begins on Nov. 24, 2015. That’s when she arrived at just shy of 25-weeks-old and weighing only one pound and seven ounces. Her fragile condition meant a trip to the NICU, at the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care in the Regina General Hospital, where she would spend the next 87 days under the watchful eyes of the caring and compassionate staff.
I can’t thank the NICU staff enough,” said Dallen. “They were so incredibly comforting and reassuring, not to mention great at their jobs. Without them, and the leading-edge technology available to them, there’s no way Cali would be here today.
The ride certainly wasn’t without a number of bumps along the way. On day 12 at the NICU, Cali started experiencing seizures while her heart rate and blood pressure shot up. Her kidneys were also failing.
Honestly, my husband and I thought that might be the end of Cali’s story,” Dallen admits. “But the staff worked so hard to get her stabilized. Thank goodness they had access to the equipment they needed. We’re so grateful for that and for knowing donors to Hospitals of Regina Foundation helped make it happen.
The source of the seizures was never determined, but Cali was given a clean bill of health after extensive diagnostic tests, including an electroencephalogram (EEG), CT scans. and X-rays. The seizures briefly reappeared a few days later and then vanished for good. Later, her medical team was concerned about one of her heart valves, which refused to close, despite repeated doses of Ibuprofen.
“They were talking about surgery at that point,” Dallen explains. “Then the valve just decided to close on its own. No one knew exactly why, but we definitely weren’t complaining!”
Today, Cali and her parents are enjoying life at home in Weyburn. She’s a healthy and happy youngster with no lasting effects from her rough start to life. “After everything we went through over those first 87 days, we still made it home before Cali’s original due date, which is pretty remarkable.”
Dallen is enthusiastic about sharing Cali’s story with as many people as possible.
I didn’t know anything about the NICU and the work that happens there prior to our experience. I think people need to know about the miracles happening there every year and do what they can to support that work.
“We are humbled by the generous support of our donors, who help us share success stories like Cali’s,” said Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. "The people of southern Saskatchewan clearly care deeply about ensuring the best possible local health care is here for children like Cali."
Want to know more about how babies' lives are saved at Regina's NICU? Click here
to watch this inspiring video.