Adrien Sherry is from Kensington, PEI. She sent us this email about her son, Reichen.
When I see the question “What would happen if there wasn’t a tertiary (specialized) care facility for children, youth and women in this region?”, I feel the need to tell our IWK story. Fortunately we had a successful outcome but without the IWK so close, our lives might be very different than they are today…..
Our first son, Reichen, was born on April 15th2007 in the Prince County Hospital in Summerside, PEI. He was born with a “hole” in his back; it looked like a belly button.
We saw numerous doctors in Summerside but none of them knew exactly what it was, or if it was serious, UNTIL we saw Dr. Wong, a Pediatrician in Summerside. He knew right away that it was something that required immediate attention. He took pictures of Reichen’s back and emailed them to the neurology department at the IWK. Dr. Dan McNeely responded to the email and we were sent to the IWK for an MRI the next week, Reichen was 7 weeks old for our first trip to the IWK. The MRI was in the morning and we had an appointment with a pediatric neurosurgeon at 1pm to discuss the results.
Dr. Dan McNeely, is one of the pediatric neurosurgeons at the IWK. He told us that Reichen had Spina Bifida Occulta and Tethered Cord Syndrome. Reichen’s hole was open all the way into his spinal column so he was had a major risk for meningitis and other infections. Tethered Cord Syndrome was something they would NOT have seen without the MRI, but is quite common in children with Spina Bifida Occulta. It meant that his spinal cord was attached (tethered) to his spine.
The risk was that as Reichen grew the spinal cord would stretch and worst case scenario, break causing paralysis from the waist down. We were terrified but Dr. McNeely and his nurse Coleen were so supportive and understanding. Dr. McNeely pulled out his blackberry and said “We need to schedule surgery as soon as possible; I am available June 22nd or July 6th.” It was amazing, there was no waiting for phone calls or letters, and we scheduled Reichen’s surgery right there for June 22nd.
We were able to wait on PEI until the surgery date. Dr. McNeely preformed Reichen surgery on June 22nd, Reichen was 9 weeks old. The absolute hardest thing I have ever done was hand over my 9 week old baby to the surgeons, but they took such great care of him. They were able to “un”tether his spinal cord and close the hole into his spinal column. The surgery took about 3 hours.
Reichen was a trooper, he had to lay flat on his back in his bed for the first 48 hrs (very challenging for breastfeeding!) and needed pain medication but was a pretty happy little baby!
We were able to come home 4 days later, amazing! We returned in August for a check up and Reichen passed with flying colors.
Every year we attend the spine bifida clinic at the IWK, where Reichen has an ultrasound and appointments with specialists who check to make sure everything is working properly. At our appointment in 2010, they were so pleased with his progress that we got to skip a year!!
Reichen is doing extremely well; he can do everything a normal 4yr old can do. He is also fully potty trained!! Bowel and bladder function were a concern in the beginning but he is doing just great!
We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful facility so close.