Thriving against all odds

It was a typical Sunday when Ryan Groot returned home from work, had Subway for dinner and went to bed with his pregnant wife, Kristine. Suddenly, he was awakened at 4:30 in the morning with Kristine telling him something was wrong. She was starting to hemorrhage blood. In Ryan’s mind, he knew this was way too early, two months too early.

In his line of work as a safety and environmental professional, he already had his bags ready to go in case of an emergency. They both got in their vehicle and drove as fast as possible to Rockyview General Hospital.

Kristine was immediately taken to triage where they checked the baby and were quickly told that the baby was going to be delivered that day.

“It was the first dose of stark reality. They told me to get my scrubs on and I remember them wheeling my wife out and she looked at me and I told her it’s going to be okay, you’re going to be fine,” Ryan recalls.

So much was happening at the time but Ryan distinctly remembers a number of doctors running into the room Kristine was in and realizing something was very wrong. A nurse came out to let him know what was going on and he was told that Kristine was okay but their baby was not out of the woods yet.

“I’ve never felt so alone in my life and I thought what’s happening, what’s going on?”

The nurse then told him that their daughter had been born without a heartbeat, his wife had flatlined for a bit, and during that period of time, no oxygen was getting to their daughter. This was because Kristine had suffered a placental abruption.

As there was no oxygen getting to their daughter, doctors had to get the baby out right away. There was a lot of concern over what this lack of oxygen would mean for their daughter and what the outcome would be for her.

Born at 2200 grams, their daughter Kennedy was moved from Rockyview to Foothills Medical Centre so she could be in the Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Level 3 NICUs provide the highest level of intensive care to the most vulnerable and severely ill infants.

“I got to see our daughter, Kennedy, just before they were getting her ready for the ambulance ride and I remember just seeing this little thing. I held her hand for a little bit and then they took her away.”

While Kennedy was transported to the NICU, Kristine had to go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) because she had lost so much blood. Ryan was left with his newborn baby daughter fighting for her life in the NICU and his wife in a fragile state in the ICU.

Thankfully, Kristine stabilized, but that evening, their daughter had to be intubated and was put on a feeding tube.

“The doctors said because Kennedy had a relatively long time without getting any oxygen in the womb, they were very concerned about severe brain damage.”

The parents were told that she had a very slim chance of surviving the night and a high chance that she would have brain damage. Crushed by the news, Ryan went home on his own that night to try and get a few hours of sleep.

In what Ryan describes as a miracle, he woke up the next day after receiving the worst news he thought he could receive the previous night, to the best news. When Ryan went into the NICU and saw the doctor who had given him terrible news the night before, his face was beaming.

“The doctor said, Mr. Groot, we’ve done every test we have and there is absolutely nothing wrong with your daughter. Either every chart from the other hospital is a mistake or she’s a miracle.”

From going to the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in 12 hours, Ryan and Kristine were overjoyed with the positive prognosis for Kennedy. Within a day after being intubated, she started breathing on her own. She was able to go back to Rockyview NICU to recover there.

The expected time for her to be in the NICU was nine weeks but Kennedy proved to be a fighter and was out in three.

What stands out most for Ryan regarding the care they received was how amazing the nurses were.

“They were so supportive and responsive and made us feel so comfortable. Kristine had her first Mother’s Day in the hospital and they made a big deal of it, to make sure she felt cared for.”

Kennedy is now 14 years old and is fluent in three languages. She’s a bright, empathetic young woman who has made her parents incredibly proud.

Ryan is also an artist and because of his experience in the NICU, he commissioned a special painting to give to the Newborns Need cabinet members. The art he created is of the first bath they gave their daughter in the NICU where she could fit inside a salad bowl. The artwork is incredibly special and meaningful to Ryan and we’d like to thank him for his generous donation and being part of the Newborns Need campaign.

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