At an ultrasound when she was 7 months pregnant, Vineeta was told her baby’s his life was in danger. Hours later, she was having an emergency C-section to deliver her son, Ray, who was rushed to the NICU at the Foothills Hospital. He had too much fluid in his body, but the cause was unclear. Specialists from the cardiology department at the Alberta Children’s Hospital became involved, and, after some tests determined Ray had cardiomyopathy – his heart was enlarged and unable to pump enough blood to the rest of his body.
Ray was quickly moved to the NICU at the Alberta Children’s Hospital to be under the care of his team, led by cardiologist Dr. Steven Greenway. Ray was on medications that everyone was hopeful would help his heart recover, but after three months in the NICU, he was still very sick, so he was put on the transplant list and moved to PICU. During his time in ICU, Ray was also suffering from serious gastrointestinal issues. He was weak, pale and, at four months old, weighed less than 9 lbs. – the size of many newborns. The team at the Children’s determined Ray had an allergy to milk protein and he soon began gaining weight and looking better. His parents were so excited about his progress and they grew optimistic that his heart, too, would improve now that he was healthier. But that wasn’t the case. Test after test revealed Ray’s heart was still not working.
When Ray was 8 months and 22 days old, a heart became available and he went to Edmonton for surgery. Vineeta was very emotional and devastated for the family who had lost a child. The operation went smoothly and a couple weeks later, Ray was back at the Alberta Children’s Hospital so his team could monitor his progress and teach Vineeta to care for him at home. In December of 2014 – after nine months in hospital, 4.5 in NICU and PICU – Ray went home for the first time.
These days, Ray is happy and growing fast. He went from needing 12 medications a day to three. He comes to the hospital once a month for bloodwork and once every three months for heart tests and a check-up with Dr. Greenway. Vineeta is so grateful for their teams in cardiology, NICU, PICU and Unit 2. Her husband works out of town – three weeks on, one week off – so for most of the time Ray was in hospital, she was on her own. She says the specialists at the hospital embraced and supported her through this difficult time. Having literally lived in the hospital for nine months, it truly became her home, and the staff became her family.