Carlyn was born with a cyst on her bile duct, which came with a high risk for cancer and other serious conditions. When she was 11 months old, Dr. Steve Lopushinsky removed Carlyn’s bile duct and used a piece of her bowel to replace it. Thanks to the success of that surgery, Carlyn was a happy, healthy little girl for the next three years.
Last June, out of the blue, Carlyn became very sick. At the hospital in Lethbridge, where her family lives, it became clear she was suffering from some sort of bowel obstruction and the situation was very dire. She was airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital where Dr. Paul Beaudry found that her bowel had twisted around itself. He removed a piece of bowel that was already dead, but because he wanted to preserve as much as possible, he left a piece that was very sick still attached in hopes it would heal. To do this, Carlyn’s surgical site was left open, exposing her bowel to the outside and giving it space to hopefully swell, rest and then mend itself.
Over the next few months, Carlyn had to have three more surgeries and at one point, she had both an ostomy and an ileostomy site. In the surgeries, specialists had to remove more and more bowel, as it was still very, very sick. Despite the damage to much of Carlyn’s bowel, Dr. Beaudry and his team were able to save 83 cm – exactly 3 cm more than the minimum 80 cm she needed. Carlyn was put on a nutrient-rich mixture called Total Perinatal Nutrition (TPN) that is very slowly and precisely introduced into the system to help teach the body to accept and process food. Her parents worked closely with staff at the hospital to learn everything there was about that diet and how to manage Carlyn’s feedings and care. Though Lewanna is a nurse herself, she valued the specialized training and support of people here at the hospital like Viona Lam, who helped prepare her to take over Carlyn’s care at home.
Today, Carlyn is back in Lethbridge, though she still comes for follow-up at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, which is what she’s doing here today! Her family is very grateful for the care of their many teams here, after their experiences with surgery, Unit 4, CHIRP, and more.
To hear more stories like this or to donate to the 2017 Caring for Kids Radiothon in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation visit www.KidsRadiothon.com