Witten Yanko, like the NFL legend (former Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten) he’s named for, knows how to make a dramatic entrance. However, unlike appearing in a stadium with 80,000 football fans, the younger Witten’s arrival in the world last year was only witnessed by a select few.
Witten’s mom Robin had been experiencing some complications with her pregnancy. Most significantly, the placenta was drawing blood and nourishment away from Witten, rather than bringing it to him, so the decision was made to deliver the baby by C-section at 32 weeks, on February 23, 2022. The tiny infant weighed only 3lbs 5oz (1.5 kg) and was quickly put under the care of the world-class medical team at our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care, at the Regina General Hospital (RGH).
“My mom and sister are both NICU nurses,” Robin explains. “So, I had some idea of what to expect. But when it’s your own child, you cannot help but be worried. Yet, I just knew he was a fighter and everything was going to work out in the end.”
As is common with premature babies, Witten’s lungs were not yet fully developed, so he needed the help of a CPAP machine to breathe until his lungs grew strong enough to breathe on their own. Aside from being put on oxygen several times, Witten grew stronger every day with no need for any other procedures.
After 41 days at RGH, Robin and her husband Ryan were able to take Witten home to Balgonie, just east of Regina. As his first birthday approaches, his rocky start to life is becoming a distant memory. His weight is up to 18 pounds and he’s a happy, healthy baby who loves to cuddle with his mom, watch football with his dad, and adores his two older brothers and the family dog.
“We’re just so grateful for everything the team at RGH did for Witten and our family,” Robin continues. “We’re thankful for having the NICU right here in Regina, and for the amazing tools and technology the medical teams have at their disposal, thanks to the support of Hospitals of Regina Foundation donors. Without all that in place, Witten wouldn’t be here.”
“We are proud to play a role in supporting success stories like Witten’s,” says Lisa Green, senior vice-president, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “By working together to ensure our NICU is equipped with the best technology, we’re giving children across southern Saskatchewan a fighting chance at leading better lives.”