Ashley Mailloux had never heard of an omphalocele, much less considered how the rare medical condition could impact her life. But all that changed when she gave birth to Bennett, the first child for Ashley and her fiancé Jesse Hansen, on August 29, 2019. Bennett was born by C-section at 39 weeks in Regina’s General Hospital (RGH) with his liver and bowels on the outside of his body, covered in a thin membrane sac.
“We knew his condition ahead of time, thanks to the ultrasound,” Ashley says. “Still, you can never really be fully prepared until the baby arrives, so there were a lot of tense moments up until that point.”
After delivery, Bennett was immediately taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at RGH.
“I only got to see him for a few seconds before he was rushed off to the NICU,” Ashley says. “A couple of hours later I was wheeled in so I could see him. That was the longest two hours of my life!”
Over the next few weeks, Bennett’s condition was constantly monitored. In addition, a special silver benzoate dressing was regularly applied onto the membrane sac to help his skin grow overtop. Ashley and her mother stayed in rental accommodations near the hospital the entire time.
"The medical team in the NICU is amazing," Ashley declares.
In addition to caring for our baby like he was their own, they took the time to answer all our questions and calm our nerves. They are phenomenal people.
After 26 days in the NICU, Bennett was discharged and taken home to Rockglen, a 2.5-hour drive south of Regina near the U.S. border. He continues to receive regular homecare treatment, and will eventually have surgery to move his organs into his belly and close up the opening.
“Families in southern Saskatchewan are so fortunate to have access to Regina’s NICU,” Ashley continues. “I can’t even imagine what this experience would have been like if we had to travel further away without that support from family. It would have been so much harder!”
“Bennett’s story is a reminder of the importance of investing 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 live better lives.”
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