Family seeks support for infant

A Penticton family is reaching out to the community to help with costs associated with their newborn baby who has an undiagnosed respiratory disease.

Young parents David Johnson and Amanda Herner are asking the community for support for their sick newborn child Hailie. A fundraiser barbecue is being held at Zellers on Friday.

Young parents David Johnson and Amanda Herner are asking the community for support for their sick newborn child Hailie. A fundraiser barbecue is being held at Zellers on Friday.

A Penticton family is reaching out to the community to help with costs associated with their newborn baby who has an undiagnosed respiratory disease.

To assist the family, Zellers is holding a barbecue fundraiser from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday with hotdogs, hamburgers and pop being sold by donation. All proceeds will go to the family to help pay for various costs.

Through the support of their families, teen parents Amanda Herner and David Johnson have managed to stay emotionally strong for their six-month-old baby Hailie, who was flown to the neo-natal intensive care unit at B.C. Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Vancouver just six days after she was born on Feb. 22.

“Since Amanda is under age and is unable to stay in Vancouver by herself, her mom has had to take a leave of absence from her work in order to stay in Vancouver with her,” said David Johnson Sr, grandfather to Hailie. “The financial strain on this family is incredible.”

The young father has been staying in Penticton, working part-time at a restaurant and using that money to visit his baby and Herner at the hospital and to help support them financially.

Hailie’s condition deteriorated shortly after she was born and it became necessary for the baby to be put on a ventilator in order to keep her alive. Since March Hailie’s condition has deteriorated to the point that only a tracheotomy, a tube placed in the windpipe to deliver air into the lungs, would be effective to help her breathe. The baby is unable to breathe and swallow at the same time and therefore has to rely on a surgically placed feeding tube in her stomach. Recently, it was found that Hailie has been having myoclonic seizures and has been put on medication in order to help try and control them. Hailie’s grandmother, Jill Herner, said they remain positive that the baby will be able to come home in the fall.

“It’s tentative for Oct. 1, but at this point it can change at any time depending on how she is doing. Right now she is doing not too bad but she has a bit of a cold. They tried a new medication on her and it seems to be helping with her seizures, so we are praying that this will do some good,” said Jill.

The grandmother said funding by Easter Seals is running out and it costs about $40 per day for the pair to stay at the hospital. Since Jill has taken a leave of absence from work, paying to stay at the hospital and keeping up with bills in Penticton has been tough.

“Money that is raised will go towards helping make sure Hailie has a home to return to when that time comes. While $40 a day at Easter Seals sounds pricey, renting a furnished place here would be at least $1,200 a month. Then we also need to pay rent at the house in Penticton and bills which I expect to increase with the machines that we need to run for Hailie when she comes home,” said the grandmother.