Isaac Lindsay has a habit of taking two steps forward and one step back, even though he hasn’t yet learned how to walk.
The 10-month-old baby from Okanagan Falls has had a rough go after being born almost two months premature, but the community is banding together to make sure he keeps marching in the right direction.
Mother Elise Stevenson said her and husband Matt Lindsay had been expecting Isaac, their second child, to join their family June 27 of last year.
Her abdominal area had grown quite big early on, and despite regular check-ups, she had been given the all-clear with doctors indicating the baby was set to be large. But on April 11, the truth showed otherwise.
“I had too much fluid in my belly. The doctors at the maternity clinic here just missed it, and so at 29 weeks pregnant I went into pre-term labour,” she said.
Doctors called Bedline, which finds room in the closest NICU — a neonatal intensive care unit designed to meet the needs of premature and at-risk babies. There are only three in the province in New Westminster, Vancouver and Victoria. Stevenson was flown to Royal Columbian Hospital, arriving at 2 in the afternoon. Just before midnight, Isaac was born.
“They told me I was having a big baby, and he was two pounds, 10 ounces,” she said.
Doctors were faced with an immediate challenge with Isaac: his lungs were not fully developed and Stevenson had been unable to have the two steroid shots that would have sped up the process. He was diagnosed with pulmonary hypoplasia, or small lungs, and was intubated and put on a ventilator — where he stayed for 66 days.
RCH staff struggled to take the intubation tube out, Stevenson recalled, and Isaac was then brought to B.C. Children’s Hospital. It was there medical staff found Isaac had spent so much time with a breathing tube that it had damaged his airway.
“From being intubated so many times, he has a floppy airway. His airway collapses every time he breathes,” she explains, noting there is a silver lining in the diagnosis. “It’s something that he can grow out of. He has to recover from the traumas that happened to him so early in life.”
To ensure he receives enough oxygen, Isaac wears a “bi-PAP,” or bilevel positive airway pressure mask that sits on his face and forces air into his lungs. He will continue using the machine until June, when doctors will check his progress and decide whether he will need laser surgery to his esophagus, which could create some scar tissue that would give his airway strength.
There are still hiccups along the path to recovery. Complications have arisen in the last few months they’ve been out of hospital, and Stevenson said they’ve had to be airlifted twice to Vancouver for bleeding problems.
Isaac also can’t eat orally and requires a feeding tube. Growing boys need their nutrients, and Stevenson said her son is behind in terms of physical growth.
“People when they see him, they ask, ‘How old is he?’ I say 10 and a half months, and they do a double-take because he’s the size of a newborn: ‘What? Almost a year old?’” she said, noting Isaac now weighs 12 pounds. “If an adult was in the hospital as long as he was in the hospital, they would have some serious problems too.”
The process of getting Isaac healthy has been costly for the OK Falls family. Lindsay travelled every weekend with their eldest daughter, Stella, to Vancouver while Isaac was in the hospital.
Family and friends have been hosting fundraisers to support them, and on March 10, they will gather at the Barley Mill Pub for a silent auction and wine walk. Tickets are $20 and include a meal. Participants can bid on a variety of prizes, which range from Tiffany’s and Luis Vuitton brands to practical items like oil changes.
“The support from the community has been amazing. It’s really incredible,” Stevenson said.
Anyone wanting to purchase tickets can call Tracy at 250-809-0167 or Leanne at 250-486-0347. Those who can’t make the evening can always make a contribution at the Valley First Cherry Lane branch to the Family of Isaac Lindsay in Trust account No. 782912-11.
“It used to be one step forward, two steps back. So we’ve switched it,” she said. “You meet a lot of families from even our area that are suffering with their kids with issues. We’re blessed to have somebody do this for us.”