Liam was born on Dec 15, 2010 at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton. Like most babies, he had 10 fingers and 10 toes, but something was missing in the middle. Liam’s stomach didn’t close all the way in utero and he was born with his bowel and liver on the outside. This condition is called Omphalocele, a birth defect that affects around 1 in 10,000 babies.
After Liam’s first surgery to attempt to put his organs back in place, he was sedated and put on paralytic medication so his body could heal with no movement. As first-time parents, we felt helpless because we couldn’t hold him or comfort him, all we could do was pray he would pull through.
On Christmas Eve, we waited all day in the hospital for him to have his second surgery. He was scheduled for 11am, and finally went seven hours later. His surgery was successful and the only Christmas gift we had hoped to receive that year.
The next few months weren’t any easier. Every time Liam appeared to be getting better there was always a set-back. He was on and off a ventilator caused by the pressure of his organs against his lungs, he had multiple infections, a blood clot, and depended on a feeding tube since he could barely breathe to eat on his own.
After three months in the hospital we were finally able to take our baby boy home,.
When we brought him home, he was on oxygen, a 24-hr feeding pump, had an open wound that had to be re-dressed every two days, and blood thinner medication that had to be given as a needle twice a day on the hour.
Liam ended up back in the hospital a couple of months later with another infection. During this time, he had his third surgery, which closed his belly, but this operation led to a very scary collapsed lung and required additional time on the ventilator.
At about one-and-a-half, Liam was finally strong enough to come off his oxygen and feeding tube. He began to breathe and eat on his own once he had figured out what hunger was. The nursing changed to parenting, and we asked ourselves, “This is parenting? This is a piece of cake, what’s everyone complaining about?".
When he was two years old we took him to a speech therapist for an assessment. She studied his language and his understanding for 30 minutes. Afterwards she looked at us and said, “This is impossible, Liam falls under virtually every risk category for falling behind in development: oxygen, feeding tube, extended hospital times; and he is 8 months ahead of where he’s supposed to be!”. We’ll never forget the fact that she used the word, impossible, twice during that conversation.
It was the hardest thing we ever did. It certainly wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible, and he’s living proof.
Now Liam is a happy and healthy 7-year-old boy, and the Guelph Wish Fund for Children has been following his progress since he was a baby. They have sent him to multiple Guelph Storm games, arranged for him to throw the first pitch at the Guelph Royals game, and spoiled him at the last Guelph Wish Fund Gala with a giant loot bag full of all of his favourite things!
In the spring 2019, he will be required to have another surgery to close the muscles in his stomach which will require a couple of weeks in the hospital and an extended time away from sports. Liam absolutely loves sports, so he will have a hard time with this, but thanks to the Guelph Wish Fund, we plan on using his wish fund to go to Disneyworld to keep his mind off things. This is such a wonderful organization and we are so grateful to have them in our lives to lift the spirits of our amazing son!