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Blake’s Story: Home for Christmas

Baby Blake laying in a Christmas baby bed in front of a Christmas tree.

In November of 2021, Algoma couple Amanda and Ryan, were delighted to bring their newborn son home from the hospital. Blake, the most recent addition to their growing family, was born just in time to add a bit more celebration and cheer to the upcoming holidays. 

Shortly after bringing their little one, who was born five weeks premature, home - the happy parents realized their son was sick. Blake had suddenly lost his appetite, was becoming more and more lethargic, and of the greatest concern was when his parents noticed he was beginning to hold his breath in an unusual way. 

Out of mounting concern for their baby boy, Amanda and Ryan rushed Blake to their local hospital to find out what was wrong. It was there doctors told them Blake was likely suffering from respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, and would have to be transferred to HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital in Green Bay for specialized care.

“A lot of this was scary because of the unknowns,” said Amanda. “Blake has a big brother who never needed to go to the hospital for anything, so this was very scary.”

At HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital, Blake’s parents were told their newborn was indeed suffering from RSV. The common respiratory virus typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms. But, in Blake’s case, the diagnosis was much more severe. Physicians expressed their concerns to Blake’s parents that their premature baby’s lungs were still underdeveloped, and immediate action had to be taken.

“Within 45 minutes of being at the hospital our doctors said Blake would have to be placed on a ventilator for at least a week,” said Amanda. “Blake was forgetting to breathe on his own so our doctors took action almost immediately.”

Amanda and her husband wanted to comfort their newborn as he began fighting the virus. But with Blake being intubated and on a ventilator his parents were limited on what they could do and how much contact they could have with their baby. 

“For about two weeks the only direct contact we had with Blake, was when we changed his diapers or held his hands during exams,” said Amanda. “It was difficult for the whole family.”

Blake’s care team at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital allowed Amanda and Ryan to be as close to their child as possible. The nursing staff provided Blake’s parents a vacant room just down the hall from their son, so they could remain nearby during their overnight stays. Amanda recalls her son’s nurses and doctors were there to not only make sure Blake was getting the best care possible, but that Amanda and Ryan were, too, during this difficult time for their family.

“Our nurses kept telling us not to lose hope. They would remind us if we needed anything that all we had to do was find them,” said Amanda. “They would take the time to explain things that the doctors had told us earlier. They would let us know that we weren’t alone.”

After two and a half weeks at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital, Blake had overcome his virus and was healthy enough to return home with his parents. While Amanda and Ryan reflect on the challenges during this time in Blake’s little life, they acknowledge they’ll never forget the exceptional care and compassion shown to them at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital. 

“I just want to thank them for all of the support. Not just the support Blake received but the support that me and Ryan received too,” said Amanda. “The nurses and doctors were so involved. They were the best! I tell everyone that it was them that got us through that difficult time.”

And while getting home in time for Christmas was a gift in itself for Blake, Amanda, Ryan and the rest of their family; the improved health and strength of little Blake was the greatest gift of all.