Lee Spiess of Calgary was 26 weeks pregnant when she and husband, Andrew, were told by physicians there was a serious problem with their unborn baby – fetal hydrops, a massive build-up of fluid in the tissues.
Once the baby was born, the condition would resolve itself as the kidneys began to function. However, until birth, there was just a small chance of survival as there was no room for the lungs to develop due to fluid in the chest cavity.
The ray of hope was the use of a heart/lung machine immediately after birth which would allow for oxygenation of the baby’s blood outside of its body while the lungs matured. The only machine of its kind in Canada was at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Edmonton.
Meghan was born on September 4, 1989 and physicians determined there were additional complications – there was a defect in her diaphragm and the liver and bowel had moved up through it into the chest cavity further complicating her breathing. At this point, there was less than a one per cent chance of survival.
STARS was called to rush Meghan to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for treatment. She was immediately put on the heart/lung machine, while surgeons repaired the hole in her diaphragm and administered large doses of steroids to help her lungs mature.
Meghan spent three weeks in hospital in Edmonton before being transferred to Foothills Medical Centre and later Alberta Children’s hospital in Calgary for a total of six months of treatment.
Today Meghan is 22 years old and, other than some minor medical problems due to the prenatal complications, she is a happy and healthy young woman, who is also an active STARS volunteer.