A year ago, when we met Sawyer’s family on Radiothon, we learned that Sawyer was born 10 weeks prematurely. His muscles were so stiff and contracted he couldn’t bend his arms or legs. He also struggled to breathe, couldn’t swallow, and his oxygen levels were dipping. He was immediately intubated and spent 3 weeks in the Foothills NICU and more than 3 months at the Alberta Children’s Hospital – primarily in the newly opened Edwards Family NICU. Sawyer’s breathing issues were caused by vocal cord paralysis. Like his arms and legs, the muscles in his airway were contracted, affecting how oxygen could get through. He also couldn’t eat by mouth. He began receiving his nutrition through a feeding tube and was eventually discharged home with an oxygen tank.
But 3 months later, while their family was watching the Labour Day Classic at a friend’s house, Sawyer suddenly stopped breathing and lost consciousness in dad’s arms. They rushed him back to the hospital. A few days after being admitted, he coded right before his parents’ eyes. He was resuscitated but needed tracheostomy surgery (external breathing tube) to get air into his lungs.
When we talked to Sawyer’s parents last year, they were incredibly grateful that the hospital saved Sawyer’s life. They’re back with us today because the hospital is now vastly improving his quality of life. This summer, after 2 years of living with a trach – which required constant care and management (to prevent infections, obstructions), surgeons removed the trach and Sawyer began breathing on his own for the first time! At the end of January, he also had hip surgery to help him with his walking.
Sawyer – the quiet little boy we met last year at Radiothon – is now a social butterfly, talking up a storm and singing every chance he gets. Not only did the hospital save his life, they are now vastly improving his quality of life.
Here’s Sawyer singing “Away in a Manger”!
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