Hope Air Patient Stories
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RowanBumps and bruises come with the territory when you’re a two-year-old. But when Katie’s son, Rowan, returned from a camping trip with his grandparents in the summer of 2017 with a swollen knee, she could tell it was something more serious. The swelling didn’t decrease, and Rowan was experiencing more and more pain.

Katie and Rowan didn’t get answers for a month, as five trips to the emergency room in Kelowna, BC built frustration and concern.

DawnWhen Heather, a mother of four from Kelowna, BC, took her six-month-old daughter, Dawn, to get her immunizations, she was shocked to find out her baby had been losing weight – about two pounds per week! Their doctor referred them to a specialist who told them they urgently needed to go for additional testing at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. After months of MRIs, CT scans, and doctor’s appointments, Dawn was diagnosed with Benign Congenital Hypotonia, a neuromuscular disorder where the amount of tension or resistance to stretch in a muscle is very low. The news was devastating to Heather, who was told her daughter may never be able to run or ride a bicycle.

JacobIt’s not every day you hear about a successful medical diagnosis made from the internet. But in Jacob’s case, that’s exactly how he discovered his condition.

Two years ago, Jacob’s mother Patti was reading an article online when she noted that her teenage son displayed some of the physical attributes of Marfan syndrome: long limbs, tall body type, unusually flexible joints. Doctors said they were nothing to worry about—but when Jacob was tested by echocardiogram, the results came back positive.

magginMaggin was at work one day when she felt a severe pain in her wrist. “It happened very suddenly. It was so bad that I couldn’t do anything,” she says. The pain didn’t go away over the next several weeks – on the contrary, it got worse. “First the pain was in my wrist, but it spread to all four limbs,” she says. Maggin was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic condition with no known cure.

“I’m in constant pain, twenty-four seven. It is prolonged excessive pain,” she says. Maggin was living in Kelowna at the time, but because of the constant, excruciating pain in her arms and legs, she moved to Prince George to live with her parents, who could help care for her.

sylasIn 2013, Marla and her family began a medical odyssey. Her 18-month-old son Sylas was not growing and had no energy. He was constantly vomiting and having diarrhea. Blood work and tests provided no answers.

Travelling to Vancouver for assessments became routine for the Kamloops family. The first possibility was leukemia, so they were fast-tracked into oncology testing. When that was ruled out, gastroenterology was next, then genetics. It was a scary time for the family, and they still had no diagnosis.

Every two months, Sylas and mom Marla would make the four-hour car trip. Each trip would take them away from home for at least two days. When Sylas’s little sister joined the family, they needed to bring along Marla’s mother to look after the baby so that Marla could focus on the appointments. The trips were costly and exhausting.

AayliyahIn November 2012, four-year-old Aaliyah got sick. At first, doctors in her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie thought she had the flu. But when Aaliyah’s symptoms worsened, she had to be airlifted to SickKids in Toronto. Despite being eight months pregnant at the time, Aaliyah’s mom, Alicia, flew by helicopter with her sick daughter; leaving her husband to look after their two other children at home.

By the time Alicia and Aaliyah arrived in Toronto, the four-year-old had lost her vision and was going into kidney failure. Alicia recalls having her worst fears realized as her youngest daughter’s life hung in the balance. An MRI revealed Aaliyah’s brain was enflamed. The diagnosis was encephalitis, a rare and life-threatening neurological condition. Doctors at SickKids responded immediately and started Aaliyah on a treatment plan to make her well. That plan included regular visits to the Toronto hospital – the first being in four weeks time. It was then that a social worker at SickKids told Alicia about Hope Air.