A routine ER visit turns life-threatening and Rory's fight for life begins
On September 7th 2017, Jeff and Inez Heuving brought their son, Rory to the St.Thomas Emergency Room, for what they thought was a routine trip requiring antibiotics. Rory had a history of febrile seizures that typically meant an ear infection, so they weren't overly concerned when he experienced 3 in a row that day.
Little did they know how close they would come to losing their precious baby boy in the hours that would follow.
The medical team that cared for Rory over the next several months saved his life more than once and continually went above and beyond in their quick thinking, calm demeanour and outpouring of love and support for the Heuving family. These local heros did the right things at the right times to save the life of a baby boy who had everything working against him.
When the Heuving's arrived at St.Thomas Elgin General Hospital in the middle of the night, Rory was admitted. They got settled on the paediatric floor and things quickly went from bad to worse.
Rory began convulsing, his eyes turned completely yellow, he was lethargic, and not moving, other than to vomit dark red blood in between convulsions. The Resident doctor was quick to alert the on-call paediatrician (who was also a trained ER doctor) of the situation and upon arriving, she knew something was very wrong.
It was then that Rory stopped breathing.
The paediatrician began CPR and called a code pink. She ran the show confidently with her nurses by her side until an entire team of doctors arrived. Another doctor checked the culture and it showed that it was growing 'group A Strep' which had become invasive, causing Rory to go Septic.
A code orange was called and Rory was trauma transferred to Victoria Hospital Paediatric Critical Care Unit with that same amazing paediatrician and an entire trauma team of nurses and RT's by his side. They ventilated him before lifting off and he had to be resuscitated twice in flight and again in the Paediatric Critical Care Unit. The night nurse from St.Thomas Elgin General Hospital gave Jeff and Inez the best gift she could at that time, by driving them from St.Thomas to Victoria Hospital and providing them with updates during their agonizing 5 hour wait while the entire team did everything they could to stabilize him.
Despite the very best efforts of so many people, the Paediatric Critical Care Unit Doctors delivered the devastating news to his parents that they needed to prepare for the worst.
"We walked in to the ICU and saw you for the first time. We saw you connected to all of these different machines, we saw you receive 21 transfusions, we saw you filled with medicine and we saw you surrounded by medical professionals who couldn't give us a straight answer on if you'd make it through the night. We saw you on entire life support. We were told you might not live. We were told that if you did survive and the MRI came back negatively, your life would alter significantly. I lost my mind when we saw you turn blue and your urine become black. We cried and pleaded as your kidneys went in to complete failure."
In a room full of love with Rory's parents, grandparents and the life saving Paediatrician (who was now much more than just his doctor), they held him tight and prepared to say goodbye.
Did I mention that Rory is a fighter?
The MRI results came back with something that no one could have expected, there was a flicker of hope and their baby was still in there.
Rory was ventilated for 2 weeks and then spent an additional 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit after being extubated. During this time, all of his organs failed. He had 2 temporal lines, a femoral line and 2 central lines that each had 6 ports on them for all the medication he needed. The sepsis caused him to shed the first 2 layers of his skin, meaning that on top of everything else, he was also treated like a burn victim. He started to lose the toes on his left foot due to the flesh eating component of the disease. Once he was stable enough, he was transferred to the paediatric floor at Victoria Hospital, where he spent another 6 weeks in a private room.
The care that was required to sustain this sweet boys life was intense. In the Paediatric Critical Care Unit he had 3:1 nursing. On the Paediatric floor it was 2:1 nursing for the first 3 weeks.
With the best medical team by their side, Rory and his parents began the road to recovery, with a million unknowns, there was one thing they knew for sure—the road ahead would be long and hard.
He lost all of his hair from the sepsis and went from 29lbs down to 17lbs, resulting in him being pre type 1 diabetic from all of the hormonal shifts and now required insulin. He has undergone dialysis as a result of the damage done to his kidneys and he required heart surgery to repair the valves which stretched from the bacteria.
With his team, he re-learned how to do everything, from swallowing and chewing to walking.
"Your first breath off that ventilator took ours away. Your eyes fluttering open the first time you made my heart ache and thrive all in one. Your first steps made my legs crumble to the floor."
Finally, Rory was discharged to homecare, where he had a PICC line for 3 months to complete his medication and a heart line for the dialysis.
Their angel paediatrician followed Rory, continuing to check in on him 3 times per week. Rory still has many outpatient appointments, but he is thriving at 3 years old, and that same paediatrician still follows him, and his baby sister Esme (who was lovingly named after her).
On September 28th, just weeks after their life changed forever, Inez wrote "I can honestly say that day 1 was by far the worst day of our lives. We relive those dreadful hours in our minds constantly; watching our son on the brink of life, teetering back and forth for hours. The uncertainty was hollowing. As the days went on, things got worse and worse. It seemed like the only news we got was bad news... we were obliterated with information, decisions, choices and consents. Things weren't working in ours, or Rory's favour. Slowly, things DID and still HAVE turned around. He'll come out with a lot less hair and one less toe, a whole lot of donor plasma, platelets and red blood cells running through his body and probably a rational fear of hospitals. BUT he will have gained strength and perseverance like I've never seen, a humble heart and he'll get to know just how many selfless people cared, supported and loved him through this journey."
Let's collectively take a moment to celebrate the heroes of the Emergency Room and especially the paediatric teams at St.Thomas Elgin General Hospital and Victoria Hospital in London!
Make sure you comment below with a note of thanks to the nurses, doctors, surgeons, respiratory therapists and all the other life savers who do this work every single day, then share this story and tag your favourite medical professional so they can see just how appreciated they are!
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