When Sawyer was born prematurely, at 30 weeks, his arms and legs couldn’t bend. His muscles were stiff and contracted. He also struggled to breathe, couldn’t swallow, and his oxygen levels were dipping. He was immediately intubated and spent three weeks intubated in the Foothills NICU before he was transferred to the newly-opened Edwards Family NICU at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. He was one of the first babies to stay in the donor-funded NICU and for the next four months, it became a second home, where nurses became like a second family.
Scopes of his airway revealed Sawyer had vocal cord paralysis. Just like his arms and legs, his muscles of his airway were contracted, affecting oxygen getting through. He also couldn’t eat by mouth. He was placed on low flow oxygen and given an NJ tube to eat. After three months in the NICU and a week on Unit 3, he was allowed to go home with an oxygen tank.
But three months later, while his parents were at a friend’s house watching the CFL Labour Day Classic, Sawyer suddenly stopped breathing and lost consciousness while in his father’s arms. They rushed him back to the hospital where it was found his vocal cords were floppy. A few days after being admitted, he coded right before his parents’ eyes. Pam yelled “Help!” as loud as she could, and instantly a nurse came running into the room. In less than a minute, the entire Code Team was in his room coming to little Sawyer’s rescue. It was the most terrifying moment for Sawyer’s parents.
Sawyer was resuscitated but his vocal cords were too tight to intubate him, so the decision was made to give Sawyer a tracheostomy to help him breathe. Fear suddenly turned to relief for his parents. Their son was safe – he could breathe, safely and easily. He was like a whole new boy! He became happier and started meeting milestones. Thanks to his care team, his parents are able to manage his trach at home.