Thanks to incredible support from the community
during the 2019 Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon,
the Alberta Children’s Hospital is transforming the
way specialists care for patients with the use of virtual
reality headsets as an effective distraction technique for
kids who undergo procedures that might be scary or
“The fact this hospital is so supported by the
community, it means everything to my family,” says
Tammy. “Without that level of community support, this
hospital wouldn’t be here.”
The Burke family wouldn’t be here, either.
The day everything changed
The Nova Scotians had only intended to live in Calgary
for a short time, however that changed when JD was a
month old. Tammy remembers the day well.
“We were at our daughter’s gymnastics class and JD
was in his bucket seat when he suddenly started crying. I
didn’t want to be a helicopter mom but I knew something
was wrong, so we took him to the Children’s,” she recalls.
JD had suffered a neonatal stroke.
It’s a frightening
scenario for any parent and baby JD was treated in the
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for a week. He was released
back home to parents who could only watch, wait and worry
about how the stroke would impact his development.
Tammy and her husband, David, watched their baby grow into a little boy, and everything seemed okay. He was hitting his milestones rolling over, sitting up, first steps.
But he wasn’t sleeping well, and he was unusually tired during the day. The Alberta Children’s Hospital outfitted JD with a portable electroencephalography device to monitor and record his brain activity at night when he slept.
That’s when they received a daunting diagnosis: epileptic encephalopathy with continuous spike and wave during sleep—more commonly known as CSWS.
JD was suffering through near-constant seizure activity at night exhausting his growing brain and threatening development. While anti-seizure medications can do wonders for many kids, JD didn’t respond to any of them. His sleep constantly interrupted, Tammy says it was impacting every facet of his life.
After trying many conventional treatments, JD’s neurologist recommended the IVIG therapy. That’s when everything changed Tammy and David got their son back.
"This hospital means the world to us, it's the reason we stayed in Alberta."
– Tammy Burke, JD's mom
Today, JD is a regular teenager. He plays hockey, he loves guitar, and he’s doing better in school. He visits the Alberta Children’s Hospital every month like clockwork and that’s not a bad thing, says Tammy.
“This hospital means the world to us, it’s the reason we stayed in Alberta,” she says. “It’s helped my son so much and it’s always a pleasant experience here.”
Thanks to generous people like you, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation is able to fund vital family-centred programs and research and equip experts with leading-edge technology so families continue to have a world-class facility they can rely on.
Linh Lam coordinates the Child and Youth Initiative Media Program at the hospital, which exists to make a child’s stay more comfortable. She says the headsets are an effective distraction technique that would not have been possible without support through the Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon.
“I get to put smiles on the faces of kids like JD, thanks to this community,” she says. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
Help the Alberta Children's Hospital deliver world-class care. Tune in to the Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon.
Virtual reality headsets will soon be used to comfort and distract children from all over the hospital. Other virtual reality initiatives being made possible through last year’s Radiothon include an educational game to help children with cancer learn about their illness and treatment and realistic simulation scenarios for critical care experts to practice their intubation skills and to train for helicopter transports. There is even a virtual reality program being created to help prepare kids and families on what to expect before surgery.
Virtual reality technology is just one example of how community support makes children’s lives better.
Sick and injured kids in our community need our support, and Radiothon listeners have been providing that by helping put the very best tools into the hands of amazing caregivers at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
You have an opportunity to help.
On February 5th, 6th and 7th, be sure to tune in to the Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon to hear from dozens of incredible families whose lives have changed thanks to people like you. It’s the most inspirational three days of radio you’ll ever be a part of.