Give kids the gift of life

Mommy and Daddy love you. We’ll be right behind you.

Nothing could have prepared Kayla and Brett for that heart wrenching goodbye, watching their two-week-old baby Leo take off in a small airplane headed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, with a team of specialists working to save his life.

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Kayla, Leo and her older son Barrin were enjoying their local water park in Lethbridge when Kayla noticed Leo’s breathing seemed slow. Because Leo was born with a small cyst on his lung that doctors were keeping an eye on, she decided to drop Barrin off at his grandma’s house and take Leo to the Emergency Room, just in case.

By the time they arrived, Leo’s breathing worsened. As Kayla laid her new baby down on the hospital bed, his oxygen levels dropped dramatically, and then suddenly, he went limp.

A child’s condition can change from stable to life-threatening in minutes. Timely access to specialized medical intervention can mean the difference between life or death, complete recovery or disability. Community support ensures that life-saving care is available whenever and wherever children need it.

Leo in HospitalFrighteningly, in just two days, Leo’s cyst had grown 25% larger and was crushing one of his lungs. The Emergency doctor determined Leo urgently needed the expert, pediatric care of the Alberta Children’s Hospital – and fast.

The hospital’s Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team was Leo’s best hope. His life depended on the speed and skills of specially trained intensivists, respiratory therapists and nurses who travel to smaller hospitals to stabilize and transport critically-ill babies and children to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Whether by fixed-wing airplane, helicopter, or ambulance, the team performs life-saving interventions en route to hospital.

Donations from people like you make this level of critical care possible. You can help ensure that children like Leo continue to have access to life-saving, life-changing care when their lives depend on it.

Leo’s respiratory therapist and ICU nurse confidently and skillfully stabilized him. The team loaded him into an airplane equipped like a mobile intensive care unit. Kayla and Brett told their baby they loved him and began the 2 ½ hour drive to Calgary, anxious and afraid.

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“We watched his plane fly over us as we were driving on the highway, and I put my hand on the window and prayed to God that my baby was OK. As heartbreaking as it was watching these people take my baby and fly away with him, I knew he was in the best hands and going to the best place." – Leo's mom, Kayla

The Transport Team was Leo’s lifeline for the flight from Lethbridge to Calgary. Because of donations from people like you, he had the right experts caring for him with state-of-the-art equipment on board to survive the journey to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Even with the aircraft’s movement, noise and confined space, the team could keep a close eye on Leo’s condition using a monitor specifically designed for flight.

At the Alberta Children’s Hospital, specialists determined the cyst was the size of a walnut – nearly as big as his lung itself. Leo urgently needed surgery to remove it along with a portion of his lung.

Leo with mom, dad and brother in front of the Alberta Children's HospitalThankfully, 18 hours after surgery, Leo began breathing on his own. Five days later, he was well enough to go home with his relieved and grateful parents. Today, his parents wonder if his lungs work too well as they watch him chase and holler after his big brother as a silly toddler!

“Leo wouldn’t be here today without the Transport Team, our surgeon, and people who give to the hospital,” says Kayla. “Thanks to them, we get to have Christmas as a family of four, and I am going to be able to watch my son grow up healthy and happy.”

Leo is just one of hundreds of children from across southern Alberta, southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Saskatchewan who rely on the Transport Team every year for urgent, life-saving care. Now, as demand for transports has more than doubled with the increase of respiratory illness, your support is needed more than ever. During this meaningful time of year, we hope we can count on your donation to ensure more children like Leo can return home to their families, as healthy as possible.

Thanks to special support from Alberta Milk, donations made in response to Leo’s story will be matched up to $100,000, if made by December 31. Please consider making a gift today to ensure children continue to receive the best care possible.

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You can ensure life-saving, life-changing care is available when kids like Leo need it the most. And a special thank you to Alberta Milk for supporting this year's campaign with a $100,000 match!