Radiothon Saves Lives Like Caleb’s
Caleb Oriel is alive today because brilliant medical professionals cared for him – and generous people like you cared about him. Today, thanks, in large part to donations through the Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon, Caleb, now 17 months old, had access to state-of-the-art respiratory equipment he needed to breathe when he was at his most vulnerable. Because the technology was there, and people like you were in his corner, Caleb’s happy ending in hospital was just the beginning of a happy and healthy life.
Baby Caleb was so eager to enter the world, he arrived two whole seasons early. Caleb shocked his parents Mary and Alex when he was born four months ahead of schedule, in August of 2020 instead of his due date in December.
Caleb was delivered by emergency C-section at the Foothills Medical Centre and rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) there to be intubated. Caleb was so tiny, he could fit in the palm of your hand, and as his parents soon learned, his best chance at survival was in the hands of the pediatric experts at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
“We were so thankful he was alive, but it was difficult to see his skin grey and nearly transparent,” says Mary. “He was tiny and so weak that even crying was a struggle for him.”
Aside from fragile, Caleb was very sick. He had a spontaneous perforation of his bowel, causing toxic fluid to leak into his tummy. Sometimes, in babies so young, the hole on the bowel will close, however, despite antibiotics and the insertion of a drain to divert the dangerous fluid, Caleb became sicker over the next four weeks.
At risk of serious infection shutting down his organs, Caleb needed the specialists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Thanks to support like yours, they were equipped with the best tools and knowledge necessary to give him a fighting chance.
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Donations through Radiothon change and save lives.Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon
When Caleb arrived at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, his heart was beginning to fail. His doctors determined he needed immediate surgery to repair his bowel. Eleven weeks before he was even supposed to be born, Caleb had his first surgery.
“We went with him to the operating room and said goodbye because we didn’t know if we would see him alive again,” Mary says. “We just had to put our trust into the surgeons to bring him back to us.”
Caleb’s intestines were so delicate it was like operating on wet tissue paper, yet with painstaking care, his surgeon skillfully repaired the tear and removed the portion of bowel that had died. Thanks to this expertise, Caleb made it through the operation. The next challenge was helping him survive the days and weeks ahead.
For five months, Caleb and his parents lived in the Edwards Family NICU at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, which cares for some of the province’s smallest and most vulnerable babies. There, Caleb relied on state-of-the-art technology to help him breathe.
The intubation equipment and ventilator, designed especially for newborns, was available to help Caleb thanks to the generosity of donors who gave through the Caring for Kids Radiothon.
To give his bowel time to rest, Caleb used an ostomy bag and was given nutrients intravenously. In time, Caleb was able to have breastmilk through a tube directly into his stomach, mere millilitres at a time. By December, around his original due date, he was strong enough for another procedure to reconnect his digestive system for good.
Mary and Alex say the Alberta Children’s Hospital was the best place they could have been for Caleb, and the compassion they found in the NICU helped make the emotional journey easier.
“The NICU is where Caleb, Alex and I became a family,” Mary says. “Living in hospital during the pandemic, feeling so isolated from our loved ones, our NICU team became part of our family, and we will never forget them.”
One year ago, Caleb went home with his feeding tube and on oxygen. Today, he is a busy and vocal 17-month-old boy who eats everything on his plate.
“Caleb is such a gift, and we know if it weren’t for the incredible specialists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, he wouldn’t be here,” says Mary. “They not only saved his life, they gave him the best start to life. We know so much of that is thanks to people who give to the hospital, and we can’t thank them enough.”