Surviving and Thriving

Ethan is three years old and thriving in life despite being born four months early requiring him to fight to survive. He developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition that required surgery at ten days old. He needed antibiotics, an ostomy bag and a second surgery five months later. After living in three different hospitals for the first seven months of his life, his parents were thrilled to take him home but did not know what to expect as they brought him home, feeding tube and oxygen tank attached.

As a micro-preemie, many medical specialists advised Ethan’s parents to keep realistic expectations with what he may and may not be able to do. Missed milestones didn’t deter them from staying optimistic though. They knew that Ethan as a hard worker and had his own timeline. At ten months old he pulled his feeding tube out and at 15 months old he topped using his oxygen tank, proving he didn’t need either of them anymore. His Lakeridge Hospital neonatologist referred him to Grandview Kids to begin physiotherapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT) and speech-language pathology (for minor speech delays). He received an official diagnosis of cerebral palsy (CP) by a Grandview developmental paediatrician at 19 months of age. PT/OT sessions at age one focused on goals such as head control and tummy time, and in time moved to sitting and learning protective reflexes. Today, Ethan can be found happily walking with or without his posterior walker and climbing stairs while holding onto a railing and a helpful hand.

The therapists at Grandview are really the life line for families who are struggling with a lot of heavy emotions. Having a team to support them and tell them what the next steps are, gives families hope and allows them to keep going.

Dr. Carolyn Hunt

Despite the challenges he has faced, Ethan and his parents have dedicated themselves to hard work in completing therapy “homework,” enough to attract assistance from his six year-old brother, Jacob. “Jacob helps Ethan with everything,” says mom, Kathy. “Jacob would sing the alphabet, stack blocks and play with him [Ethan]” to keep therapy fun at home. The pandemic has affected what resources were available to Ethan, and though missing the connections of in-person therapies, Team Grandview remained committed to Ethan’s progress through teletherapy. He finally begins in-person PT, OT and SLP sessions in October after almost a year of virtual sessions and his family is eager to show his therapists his accomplishments and to see him achieve new skills.

Ethan is working hard to reach milestones at his own pace and has no plans of slowing down. He has been a survivor since day one and teaches those around him the necessity to live fully. There is a certain pride found in defying expectations through dedication and perseverance. Ethan and his family know that there is more work to be done but they are confident that alongside Grandview Kids, the joy that lies ahead of them is limitless.