Every expecting parent hopes for a happy, healthy baby, free of health complications at birth. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case, and was the reality that Holly Horvath and her husband Lee Forsberg faced with their newborn son, Dane.
Holly’s 12-week ultrasound revealed that Dane was suffering from a birth defect called Gastroschisis. This is a rare birth defect in the abdominal wall that affects approximately 1 in 2,000 babies, and results in the intestines being outside the body through a small hole beside the belly button. In extreme cases, the hole is larger and the liver or stomach may also appear outside of the body.
“When we first found out about Dane’s Gastroschisis it was very scary and, being such a rare birth defect, something we never expected,” Holly recalls. “There was a lot of worry and a lot of education required on our part, as well as many discussions with the doctors to try and understand Dane’s condition.”
On June 8th, 2021 at 33 weeks, Holly unexpectedly went into labour and Dane was born at the Regina General Hospital via C-section. He was immediately placed into a special plastic bag, referred to as a Silo, from his chest down to protect his exposed intestines, appendix and stomach. Dane was then immediately taken to our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Dane’s Gastroschesis diagnosis meant that he required surgery to place his organs back inside his body where they could continue to develop. The successful surgery was completed only five days after his birth, thanks to the remarkable surgeons and medical teams at Regina General Hospital.
“The doctors, surgeons and nurses were truly wonderful during this time,” Lee tell us. “They were so patient, compassionate and really took the time to explain things to us. It’s definitely scary being in that position, but having those discussions really alleviated some of the concerns we had.”
While Dane’s surgery was successful, he required a 35-day stay in Regina’s NICU to monitor his progress and development after the procedure. Even after a successful repair, babies with gastroschisis can have problems with nursing and eating, digestion of food, and absorption of nutrients. Dane spent his time in the NICU, warm and pain free under the expert care of our NICU medical team while his organs settled. It was during this time that Holly and Lee noticed a real “family atmosphere” in our NICU which was comforting and reassuring during this stressful time in their lives.
“The entire team in the NICU is absolutely amazing, they are truly special people. When Dane was first diagnosed we were told by friends in the medical field that Regina’s NICU is one of the best in the country and after seeing firsthand the level of care provided, we can truly say it’s a special place,” both Lee and Holly proclaim. “We jokingly referred to the team there as ’Aunties’ because they were just so caring and attentive during the entire 35-day stay - like we were all their own family. Not just Dane, but us as well. They were constantly going above and beyond to make sure the entire family was comfortable. It absolutely takes a special kind of person to work in Regina’s NICU.”
Dane is now a happy, healthy five month old and has recovered well after his surgery and NICU stay. For this, Holly and Lee thank the wonderful team at Regina’s NICU and Hospitals of Regina Foundation for our ongoing investment in the technologies these babies need to survive.
“Without the incredible team of doctors, surgeons, nurses, and everyone in between, we’re not sure where our son would be, and for that we’ll be forever thankful,” Holly explains. “The incredible support from Hospitals of Regina Foundation and the entire community gives these medical teams the ability to help babies with the best technology available. It’s not something you think about every day and hopefully something you’ll never need, but the impact can’t be understated when thanking people for the incredible treatment and care Dane received.”
“Our NICU sees approximately 500 fragile babies every year, each needing all the help they can get in overcoming unimaginable obstacles,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “It is essential we continue to invest in life-saving technology and equipment for our NICU, and the community’s support is critical in this endeavor.”