Special Delivery

December 18 2017 11:39am
Airlifted from a small, northern town at 26 weeks, Victoria Thibault credits BC Women's expert staff and specialized facilities for saving her baby.

On Valentine’s Day, 2016, high school sweethearts Victoria and Jeff Thibault were thrilled to learn they were expecting their first child. “We were together for 10 years before we got pregnant, so we waited a long time for our baby,” says Victoria.

Her pregnancy was going along beautifully when on July 20—at 26 weeks—Victoria went into active labour. At the time the couple was living in Mackenzie, a remote town two hours’ drive north of Prince George.

Doctors made the decision to fly the couple to BC Women’s Hospital because Mackenzie and District Hospital was not equipped to care for such a high risk delivery, nor did the hospital have a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) ward or birthing unit.

“I was medevacked to Women’s and 48 hours later McKinley made her Victoria and Jeff Thibault inside a medical helicopter with daughter McKinley. entrance weighing two pounds, six ounces,” says Victoria.

Within a week complications arose: a collapsed lung and gastro-intestinal problems, both of which required a ventilator. McKinley spent the next 70 days in Women’s NICU, while Victoria stayed at Ronald McDonald House, along with Jeff during breaks in his job with CN Rail.

“McKinley was kept in an incubator until she was 34 weeks old,” adds Victoria. “Although McKinley did have a ‘typical’ NICU stay, she did have rough times as well.”

In the Women’s NICU, families are involved in every step of their baby’s progress. McKinley was cared for by a dedicated team of registered nurses, including Stephanie Jansen. “I was with McKinley for a month before they were transferred to Prince George Regional Hospital,” says Jansen. “Because she had feeding intolerances, we increased the number of feeding times to give her less volume at any given time. We also made sure Victoria and Jeff’s voices were heard when they had any concerns.”

In late October, McKinley was finally able to go home. This June, the young family moved back to their hometown of Kingston, Ont., to be closer to their families. But their life-saving sojourn in Vancouver won’t be easily forgotten. “McKinley is our little miracle and we are so grateful for what BC Women’s has done for her,” she says. “Without them, we might not have her with us today.”

Today, McKinley is a happy, smiling baby. “She is trying to stand and is just about walking,” Victoria adds. “We couldn’t have asked for better care. Everyone on McKinley’s team loved her like we do. They were all like family.”

Article by: Michelle Hopkins
Photography by: Viara Mileva