Breath of Life

Thanks to our generous donors, BC Women’s Newborn ICU had the technology needed to help baby Francis’s underdeveloped lungs mature and grow.

Like all expectant mothers, Leah Stadelmann couldn't wait for the birth of her firstborn son. However, at 27 weeks, doctors at BC Women's Hospital discovered baby Francis was not developing properly. Leah’s excitement quickly turned to anxiety. 

"They admitted me to BC Women’s on December 19," says Leah. "I was pretty terrified at the time. Francis wasn't due until March 19 – three months later." 

Just prior to his birth, Leah and her husband, Paul Fleming, met with Dr. Kevin Ansah, who walked them through the worst- and best-case scenarios, gently balancing hope with honesty. 

"Dr. Ansah advocated for us; he listened to our concerns and he acted upon them right away," says Leah. "He didn't sugarcoat things for us, so we were prepared for what might happen. We really respected that."

It was discovered that Francis had a condition called reversed end diastolic flow. Instead of getting a continual blood supply from his mother, the baby was experiencing absent phases and then reversals in normal blood flow.

Fearing for Francis’s survival, doctors performed an emergency C-section four days later. He was born weighing just one pound eight ounces.

While delivery eliminated the one threat, Francis’s premature birth created another. His tiny lungs were severely underdeveloped and he needed highly specialized equipment simply to breathe.

Over the next three months, the Newborn ICU (NICU) was able to support Francis’s breathing using a vast range of neonatal breathing apparatus. Thanks to support from donors like you, the NICU was able to provide Francis with exactly the right breathing equipment throughout his growth and development, precisely when he needed it.

After 94 days in hospital, which included a successful battle against a serious blood infection and sepsis, Francis finally went home. Today, he’s thriving, and his future prognosis looks bright. 

"He weighs 12.5 pounds and smiles all the time," says Leah, proudly. "We’re so grateful for the incredible care Francis received from the medical staff and especially Dr. Ansah."

Written by Michelle Hopkins 
Photography by Brian Howell

Staying on the leading edge of technological innovation in the NICU is crucial to our babies. 

Please join our family of donors and help a beautiful baby like Francis.