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When Angela and Ron Thomas' eight-month baby Roger needed life-saving emergency care during a weekend getaway in the mountains, the Alberta Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Critical Care Transport team was there when they needed them.

And thanks to community support, the specialists on the team had a crucial tool to do their job and get him back to the hospital safely, where he could benefit from the full complement of the intensive care unit.Why Transport?

The Thomas family was getting ready to go home to Edmonton following an August long weekend vacation in Harvie Heights near Canmore when they noticed Roger seemed listless and lethargic. Angela took him out of his car seat and placed him on the floor where suddenly, he started to convulse. Angela was horrified as she realized her baby was having a seizure.

Roger’s worried parents called 911 and paramedics rushed him to hospital in Canmore. Because little Roger was so sick, it was soon apparent he needed the specialized care of the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Pediatric Critical Care Transport team was called out to Canmore to get him.

Thankfully, the Transport experts were equipped with the latest in ventilator technology – technology that was made possible by our generous Radiothon supporters.

Roger was unable to breathe on his own and had to be intubated. Once a tube was inserted into his airway, the machine, which can monitor all his vital signs, took over his breathing.  

We can’t thank the community enough for funding this new state-of-the-art piece of equipment for our team,” says Tanya Spence, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Coordinator of the Pediatric Critical Care Transport Program. “The new transport ventilator is latest equipment – it’s like going from a flip phone to an iPhone. Even our most seasoned Respiratory Therapists feel better when intubating a child when the latest technology is in their hands.”

The ventilator can also help kids of all ages – from babies to 18-year-olds – and has more “bells and whistles”, so it allows for more options when it comes to the types of ventilation that can be given to a patient.

“With a typical ICU ventilator, some patients need to be given big breaths, some need small breaths, there are a variety of treatments – you can tailor to what the patient needs. This one is a compact version of the ICU ventilator,” says Spence.

During the ride in the ambulance with her baby, Angela feared the worst.  Later, she went through the day in her mind and remembered Roger had had a fever earlier that morning and she and her husband presumed he had a cold or caught a bug. She never expected he would finish his day in the back of an ambulance.

“When he would have a fever, we would give him Tylenol and he’d be OK, so we gave him some Tylenol as we always do,” she says. 

“To go from something usual like a fever to him not breathing was terrifying. But I knew he was in good hands and they were taking him to a place where they could take the best care of him and determine what was really wrong.”

Once Roger arrived at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, he was taken immediately to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where he stayed for two days. An MRI showed Roger’s brain was undamaged and while the seizure had been extremely frightening, it had most likely been brought on by his high fever and not an abnormality in his brain. The neurology team at the hospital is keeping a close eye on him and today he is doing exceptionally well at home.

With faster metabolisms, tiny airways, less blood and fluid reserves and a higher sensitivity to changes in body temperature, a sick child’s condition can become life-threatening in minutes. Quick access to specialized medical care and the latest equipment to rapidly identify and respond to changes in a child’s condition can greatly impact a child’s outcome.  Thanks to your support, the transport ventilator gave Roger a chance at the best outcome possible

When Angela learned the ventilator that had helped to save Roger’s life was purchased by the community, she was overwhelmed with gratitude.

“I am so thankful for the community funding the ventilator,” she says. “Without it, we would have had to wait much longer before Roger was able to be transferred to the Alberta Children's Hospital. This would have meant waiting longer to test for the potential reasons behind the seizure. For some children, not having that ventilator available could be a matter of life and death. No one lives day to day expecting bad things to happen to their children, but when things do get hairy, it is wonderful for the best tools to be there for our kids.”

Learn more about Life Saving Care at the Alberta Children's Hospital


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