Perinatal Impact Story – Kangaroo Chairs
On May 8, 2016, Stephanie Garrison learned that her baby was about be born. She felt a sinking feeling in her gut. At only 34 weeks gestation, her son would be born preterm. There was nothing that anyone could do to slow labour down. The on-call doctor told Stephanie and her husband, Joe, what to expect. “I’ve never been that scared in my whole life,” recalls Stephanie. “All you want is for your baby to be OK. It felt like a nightmare.”
While not all premature babies experience complications, being born pre-term can cause short and long-term health issues for babies. Generally, the earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of complications. The first 60 minutes after birth, or The Golden Hour, are critical to a child’s future growth and development. Every baby born represents a tiny miracle. When babies are born early, it is the access to state-of-the-art equipment and an uncompromising standard of care and that can truly be the difference in these infants’ lives.
The perinatal unit at KGH has been celebrated by both staff and patients for its abundance of patient and clinical care space, natural light and gorgeous views from post-partum rooms. The unit represents a major leap forward in healthcare delivery in the region. Categorized Level 2B, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at KGH is able to care for acutely ill and premature infants born as young as 30 weeks. For parents like the Garrison’s this is somewhat of a silver lining to an incredibly difficult situation, as they are able to remain in Kelowna rather than being sent to the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
Baby Tanner was delivered via c-section. Two hours after surgery, Stephanie was finally able to meet her son. By then, Tanner had been placed in an incubator was already connected to a sophisticated NICU monitoring system measuring his heart rate, oxygen level and other vitals. “Overwhelmed and intimidated, I almost fainted,” she says of her reaction to seeing her baby. “I was weak from surgery and barely able to stand. The nurses helped me into a Kangaroo Chair, which made the experience so much easier. It was the most amazing feeling, holding him for the first time.”
Kangaroo Care Chairs are specialized recliners that allow parents of premature infants to snuggle their tiny baby’s skin-to-skin, and most importantly, intimately bond with their child. A total of fourteen have been made possible for use in the NICU at KGH by gifts and donations to the KGH Foundations ‘Giving Giggles’ campaign this past holiday season.
“The Kangaroo Chair was the most amazing thing for us in the NICU,” remembers Stephanie. “Without this chair, I would have only been able to hold him for 30 minutes at a time. This way I could actually lay back and hold him for hours and hours… I never had to leave. This was monumental for us in his recovery and for my emotional state.”
“Having a baby isn’t easy and having a baby that needs extra care is even harder,” says Stephanie. “Being able to have so much privacy, the Kangaroo Chair, the monitoring system, and the most amazing people I have ever met helped calm so many nerves. I hope donors know the impact they have made on so many lives. My son is beautiful and perfect, and we are so grateful.”
Each year more than 1,600 babies are born at KGH with increasing numbers being born pre-term. The new NICU at KGH opened its doors to the community in March 2016 and with it, the most advanced perinatal unit in the Southern Interior region. The level 2B NICU can accommodate premature infants born as early as 30-weeks. The KGH Foundation’s Giving Giggles campaign set out to raise $3million to equip the unit with the most advanced, state of the art equipment and patient care items in the country. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of donors and the community, the campaign closed in 2017.