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B.C. Children's Hospital saves Kelowna family in countless ways

Kolt Gross is almost 2 years old.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
February 02, 2021 - 7:00 AM

Like any toddler, Kolt Gross is struggling with teething.

“It’s hell in a handbasket,” Kolt’s mom, Kendall Gross said with good-natured laugh from her Kelowna area home.

Unlike most toddlers, however, Kolt has already surmounted far worse, though he may not realize it just yet.

“He’s the strongest kid you could ever meet,”  Kendall said. “He has his challenges and his story is not complete but he’s home and he’s happy and that’s all we can hope and pray for.”

Kendall and her husband Bryan knew that Kolt was going to have a more difficult path than others months before he was born.

During her 21 week ultrasound in February of 2019, Kendall learned Kolt would be born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. The condition, which is caused by a combination of four related heart defects, limits the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood to other organs. In order to survive, he would have to undergo open-heart surgery within the first year of his life. It was a challenge they were preparing for.

“Then at 31 weeks he was born — he was two months premature — so he had all the preemie issues on top of being a cardiac baby and he was flown to BC Children’s Hospital when he was born,” Kendall said, adding he was only 1.59 kilograms or three pounds, eight ounces.

“He was a typical blue baby. Then at a month old, while we were still in Children’s, his oxygen dropped,” she said.

Kolt was saved by B.C. Children's Hospital.
Kolt was saved by B.C. Children's Hospital.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/BC Children’s Hospital Foundation

Doctors went to put in stents so he could have proper blood flow and during the procedure, he had a heart attack and a stroke.

He was on life support for four days and was taken off when doctors detected a blood clot headed toward his brain. He survived yet another medical emergency.

He spent a couple more months at B.C. Children’s hospital and eventually went home, so he could build up his strength to get the heart surgeries he so required.

The Gross family lives in Kelowna but BC Children’s Hospital doctors and nurses have outreach clinics that allow them to receive specialized cardiology care closer to home.

“While we were at one of the outreach clinics, the health care team noticed that Kolt’s oxygen levels were dropping,” Kendall said. “If it wasn’t for the clinics, it might not have been caught in time. They saved his life once again.”

His open-heart surgery that was scheduled for January 2020 was bumped up to November 2019.

“It was complicated and he came out of it successfully,” Kendall said. “He had issues, of course, with that kind of surgery but Children’s took the best care of him possible.”

They also, she said, took care of her and Bryan in more ways than she could say. When the small family were cleared to go home in December they hoped for the best, but more challenges were in store.

“All of a sudden he started acting like he had the flu. His pediatrician saw him the following day and on Dec. 20, he was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital,” she said.

He wasn’t getting better so his medical team made the decision on Dec. 23. 2019 to get him back to BC Children’s Hospital.

“Within an hour of calling, he had a second heart attack and stroke. They told us he had 95% chance of not making the trip,” she said. “We loaded up two ambulances to get to the airport, I felt like the worst mother in the world — I thought, he’s going to pass in the air.”

When they landed B.C. Children’s Hospital, Kendall said she remembers the medical team opening the doors and a huge sense of relief washed over her.

“I felt the weight off my shoulders. I knew if anything else happened they could fix it,” she said.

She later learned later Kolt had Bocavirus, a respiratory infection that infects infants.

It’s a strain of the coronavirus, and with Kolt being so young and already compromised by his surgery he suffered its worst effects.

“He just had fight through it,” Kendall said, adding that he was in critical care for several weeks before he was cleared to go home.

Kolt is feeding through a G-tube and is on full-time oxygen.

His left side, eyes and brain, are damaged from the stroke and he now has Cerebral Palsy because of what he went through.

He’s a fighter, though. And Kendall said she’s forever grateful that Children’s Hospital made it possible for the family to get this far.

“They’re absolutely incredible — I couldn’t ask for a better support system or medical team,” she said. “They saved his life on numerous occasions and they were supportive of me as well.”

She said there was a moment during her son's open-heart surgery that she fainted, and suddenly they surrounded her with the care that was needed to rally.

“I owe my life to B.C. Children’s,” she said, adding that while she was always aware of the hospital, she had no idea how tremendous they were until she had Kolt. 

“Now he’s more normalized we see his medical team less often … but when they come to Kelowna in two weeks we will see them then.”

The outreach clinic, she said, is a huge benefit to her family and others who have struggled with similar health issues. For that, she hopes anyone who is able can offer financial support, which is possible with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation 2021 Choices Lottery.

Tickets are now on sale until Thursday, April 8, or until they sell out.

The Choices Lottery supports research that leads to innovative discoveries and treatments, which in turn directly helps experts at BC Children’s Hospital advance their quest to conquer childhood illnesses. Researchers work to push the boundaries of what’s possible and lottery funds can help accelerate the pace of turning discoveries into life-saving treatments.

“During these uncertain times, the money raised through the Choices Lottery is more important than ever. These funds go towards groundbreaking research and discovering new treatments for sick and injured children across B.C. and the Yukon,” Teri Nicholas, president and CEO of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation said in a press release.

“These discoveries are so critical in our quest to conquer childhood illnesses, which still impact too many children in our province. Thank you to everyone who supports the Choices Lottery; you are helping us transform pediatric health care.”

The grand prize winner of the lottery can choose one of seven luxury home packages located in Morgan Creek and Grandview Heights in South Surrey, Vernon, Okanagan Falls, Vancouver, Courtenay and Victoria. The winner also has the option of choosing $2.2 million in tax-free cash instead of taking one of the prize home packages.

Choices Lottery tickets can be purchased here. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2021

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