Peter’s entry into the world was not an easy one. When his parents Edward and Emily first laid eyes on their newborn son in the delivery room last January, they were shocked to learn that he wasn’t breathing.
“It was devastating when we didn’t hear him cry,” says Edward. “Doctors and nurses came in to work on him. When the breathing tube was finally taken out and you heard his cry, it was an unbelievable relief.”
After being stabilized, Peter was transferred from the local hospital in Cambridge to McMaster Children’s Hospital, where even more bad news awaited the new parents.
“His stomach was dead tissue, his kidneys weren’t working and his liver was failing,” recalls Emily. “A part of his intestine was also dead tissue because it had not received sufficient blood or oxygen.”
This necessitated surgery to remove that portion of the bowel, as well as the full removal of Peter’s stomach. His esophagus was stapled shut and a suction tube was required to clear his throat of secretions.
“Peter needed kidney dialysis three times a week,” says Edward. “Since his kidneys didn’t function, his blood wasn’t being cleaned properly on its own.”
On May 19, Peter underwent six hours of surgery to reconnect his esophagus and to create a makeshift “stomach” for his food. Surgeons folded a portion of his intestine onto itself and removed the wall, creating what is referred to as a Hunt-Lawrence pouch.
“The surgeons were overjoyed with how the surgery went. After that, Peter no longer needed a suction tube and he was able to swallow liquids a little at a time.”
Peter was discharged from McMaster Children’s Hospital on July 6. He is hitting his milestones for physical development thanks to the help of occupational therapists and dietitians. Although Peter still receives most of his nutrition through a feeding tube, the long-term goal is to eliminate the tube completely.
As his kidneys have not begun functioning yet, Edward and Emily must consider the possibility of a kidney transplant for Peter in the future. He must gain more weight before he is eligible to receive an adult kidney, at which time one of his parents or another relative would be a likely donor. Until then, unless Peter’s kidneys begin to function on their own, he will continue his lifesaving dialysis three times a week.
“He’s been healing and developing so well,” says Emily, “It’s pretty impressive what he’s accomplished considering everything he’s been through.”
Emily is grateful to people who have given donations and supported the high level of care that Peter has received at McMaster Children’s Hospital: “Thank you to donors for everything you’ve given. You’re helping to make Peter’s life so much better.”
For children like Peter, dialysis and specialized kidney care can be a matter of life and death. Kidney health is just as important for children as it is for adults. To learn more about the Caring for Little Kidneys Campaign, visit hamiltonhealth.ca/caringforlittlekidneys.
Watch Peter’s story below: