Festival of Trees

Quinn’s Story

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In July of 2019, Heather and Ryan were eagerly awaiting the birth of their daughter. But their low-risk pregnancy took a dramatic turn when complications during delivery caused their daughter to be deprived of oxygen. In her first few moments, Quinn showed no signs of life. It took 13 minutes of resuscitation efforts before her heart started to beat.

During that time, Quinn developed a form of brain damage called Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy and multiple organ dysfunction. She suffered seizures, was unable to breathe on her own, had poor kidney function, and a portion of her bowel died.

“The hardest part for us was the shock of how quickly everything changed,” Heather said. “We went from envisioning a life and a future for our daughter, to simply hoping she would survive.”

It was emotionally difficult for the first-time parents, and they knew that their baby faced enormous health challenges. Realizing that Quinn required highly specialized care to have the best chance of survival, the decision was made that she needed the expert care found only at BC Children’s and she was flown from Victoria to Vancouver.

Within hours of arriving, Quinn underwent emergency surgery on her bowels and abdomen. As her greatest health challenge was her lack of kidney function, surgeons also inserted a line that would enable her to receive dialysis, a treatment that replicates the blood-cleaning function of the kidney.

With her surgery a success, Quinn was transferred to the Hudson Family Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). As one of the sickest babies in the hospital, she would spend almost two weeks in the unit fighting for her life with 24-hour, one-on-one care.


baby Quinn lies in her hospital bed


“Our time in the intensive care unit was when Quinn was the most fragile,” Heather said. “Had she not been able to have access to the dialysis machine, which was the only one in the province available for a baby, we know that she wouldn’t be here today.”

In the days that followed, Quinn’s kidney function improved, her brain activity stabilized, and her body began to heal from surgery. On her ninth day of life, the medical team was able to remove her respirator so that she could breathe on her own. This also meant that for the very first time, Heather could hold her daughter.

“It meant everything to me to be able to have that emotion-filled first cuddle,” she said. “It was quite a production of cords and lines and it took so many people to make it happen, but I had waited such a long time for this moment,” Heather said.


Quinn's parents hold her in the PICU


The family stayed at the hospital as inpatients for another month and a half while Quinn’s health improved. Heather and Ryan were deeply grateful for the many ways that the facility and the entire health care team made it feel like a second home—from the personalization board in their room that was filled with details about Quinn, to the toys and playrooms that kept her engaged.

When Quinn was two months old, she underwent a second surgery to have her bowel reconnected. The surgery was a success and after a short recovery, Heather and Ryan were finally able to bring their daughter home.

Today, at 16 months old, Quinn is doing incredibly well and faces her ongoing health challenges with strength and resilience. As she grows, she will continue to be supported closely by a team of experts at BC Children’s Hospital.

“It’s not lost on us how different our journey with Quinn would have been without the expertise and technology at BC Children’s Hospital,” Heather said. “And this was all possible because of generous donors from across the province.”


Quinn is held by her mom in a mall decorated for Christmas

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