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Success Stories

Emma's Story

On September 30, 1997, exactly one week before my 6th birthday, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). After undergoing chemotherapy for two and a half years at CHEO, I was finally in remission. I fought this terrible disease with all of my little body and came out a stronger person than ever. Today, I am fully cured. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine having to go back to CHEO -- this time, as a Mom.

Baby Emma with AlexandraIn July 2015 I received the great news that I was pregnant.  What a joy that was for my partner and I.  A routine ultrasound revealed that the baby had some liquid around the lungs.  After meeting with a specialist from the Ottawa General Hospital, I underwent a procedure to drain some of the liquid and have it analyzed.  This would also give the baby’s lungs a better chance to develop.  The results came back with a diagnosis of chylothorax.  Regular ultrasounds revealed that the liquid was accumulating and was now in the abdominal cavity and generalized skin edema.  The new diagnosis was hydrops fetalis. I was referred to Dr. Gregory Moore, Neonatologist at CHEO to discuss next step and what to expect. 

I was induced on February 14, 2016, six weeks before my due date and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was brought right away to the General Hospital’s NICU where a team of specialists had been waiting for her. We didn’t even get to hold her.  We knew she was in good hands, but we also knew the prognosis was very poor. We were devastated.

After a couple hours, we finally got to see her. We were informed that she was stable, but very sick. We were not expecting what we saw. Our little baby was just lying there sedated, very swollen with chest tubes on both sides, a breathing tube and umbilical lines. It was heartbreaking...

She was transferred to the NICU at CHEO where we were told that if everything went well, and that baby Emma was to survive, she would be hospitalized for approximately 6 weeks. We weren’t even allowed to touch her as this might cause her too much excitement and it could affect her vital signs. The first week was the hardest, but as the days went by she was getting better and better. The edema was going down and the lungs were not accumulating liquid anymore. A true miracle.

After 11 long days, the chest tubes came out and we were able to hold our daughter for the first time. The feeling was indescribable. She had been surprising everyone from day one but no one could have imagined such a quick recovery. After fighting for 19 days in the NICU at CHEO, Emma was discharge and finally coming home with us.

Thank you to all the amazing NICU team at CHEO. A special thank you to the resuscitation team present at Emma’s birth and to Nurse Cheryl Charbonneau, Resident Sean Bryan and Dr. Greg Moore for all your support while in the NICU. We will be forever grateful.

Emma is now 4 months old and is doing amazing!

Alexandra Biard

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