For the first eight years of our daughter’s life, Laurel was a healthy girl—she rarely even got a cold. Then at the end of summer 2014, we started noticing some changes in how she was acting. She didn't always want to participate in activities that required more energy like sports. Later that fall it became apparent that she was not thriving, so we met with a Paediatrician.
The day we met with the Paediatrician was a day I will never forget. He told us that Laurel had a heart murmur and that her liver was enlarged. They began a series of tests and a few days later, we made the eight hour drive from Quesnel to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver for more extensive tests.
When we arrived in Vancouver, Laurel’s health began to decline very rapidly. Then we heard the words: Pulmonary Hypertension and lung transplant. Laurel was having a very difficult time breathing on her own without the support of medicine and devices. On January 3, 2014, Laurel and I took an air ambulance to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, where she went through more testing. It was there that they determined she had Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension and was listed for a double-lung transplant.
At the end of January 2015, her heart became too distressed and she was placed on ECMO. She was eventually taken off ECMO and placed on a Nova Lung—a device that acted as her lungs while she waited for new ones. But while Laurel was on the Nova Lung she suffered multiple strokes and her body became deconditioned. Finally, on Mother's Day I got the best news: a set of adult lungs had become available. During the early hours of the next day Laurel received her new adult lobes.
Life after transplant has been a long road to recovery. My husband and 11 year old daughter (now almost 13) were also part of this journey. We lived in Toronto for over a year from when Laurel first got very sick to when she received new lungs and rehabilitation. We’re now back living in our hometown of Quesnel, BC, and are still working on adjusting to our daughter’s new life.
Laurel is doing very well and every day we are very thankful for the selfless gift from the person who registered to be an organ donor. We also thank all the amazing healthcare staff at Sick Kids Hospital, BC Children’s and Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation Center, who went above and beyond for our family. Ronald McDonald House Toronto was another amazing support for our family while we lived together, out of province and could be close to the hospital with our daughter.
The whole experience was a very difficult time, but we’re healing as family and are so grateful for our daughter's new breath of life. Today she is a typical 10-and-a-half year old. She’s a cheerleader in our family with her joy and wittiness. She’s looking forward to going to a new school next Fall, making new friends and enjoying life.