A ‘lighthouse of hope’: Vihaan’s story
Every parent of a preschooler knows how quickly their curiosity can become dangerous. That’s exactly what happened when 4-year-old Vihaan slipped out of sight while playing before bed. He had fallen out of his second-storey bedroom window. Thanks to the donor-funded Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Alberta Children's Hospital, Vihaan received the right care at the right time and is back to his energetic self.
It began as any regular summer night.
The Sharma family had just come home from a trip to Jasper and were enjoying a relaxing evening. Kanika asked her kids Vihaan, then 4, and Mihika, 9, to go upstairs and get ready for bed, then just five minutes later, the unimaginable happened. She and her husband Kshitij heard a banging sound and assumed the kids were fooling around in their rooms. Suddenly their daughter came running downstairs hysterically saying Vihaan had fallen – from his bedroom window.
Frantically, Kanika and Kshitij rushed outside to find their son on the concrete, motionless. “I was hysterically calling out his name,” says Kanika. “He fell from a second-floor window and that fall for a four-year-old child is really brutal. It was the worst nightmare anyone could imagine.”
They held him and called his name until he regained consciousness and opened his left eye. Then he began moaning in pain. The couple rushed their boy to the closest hospital. Kanika could only stand by shaken and stammering for words while a team of doctors and nurses worked to stabilize him. Pressure was dangerously building up in his brain and behind his right eye, so doctors decided he needed the specialists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The donor-funded Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team took him safely to hospital while his worried parents followed behind by car, praying for a miracle and that they would see their bubbly boy alive again.
“We were just hoping he would survive,” says Kanika.
After arriving in the Emergency Department, Vihaan was sent for an MRI. It determined he sustained a broken femur that required surgery, along with “broken bones from his chest to his toes.” Doctors ran further scans to find any swelling in his brain, but thankfully he was lucky. He spent the next three days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit intubated. The day he was extubated, the first word he said to his mom was, “Sorry.” All she could do was hug her boy.
Vihaan spent two weeks on a unit where caregivers managed his pain before he was able to go home. Vihaan’s optic nerve has been damaged, so he relies heavily on his left eye and wears protective glasses to keep it safe, but otherwise he is back to his energetic self.
Kanika says the specialists who cared for her son are “angels.” She is grateful for those who support the hospital, and always made a point of saying a quiet thank you to the names on the donor wall in the hallway across from the intensive care unit whenever she walked by.
In 2021, the hospital cared for 28 children who fell from windows. Kanika hopes sharing their story will also educate people about the importance of keeping windows closed and locked, even in summer, and away from furniture to prevent another horrific incident like this from happening to another family.
“These sorts of accidents will come up every now and then, but there is that hope, that everything will be better soon, and that hope for me was the Alberta Children’s Hospital. It is a lighthouse of hope,” says Kania. “We know our children will be taken care of. Miracles happen there every day. We should all support the Alberta Children’s Hospital, doing our bit, in our own way, is very important. It’s a blessing and we need to make it survive for generations to come.”