Finding out she was pregnant for the first time was delightful news for Apple Tan and Bryan Concepcion. The Regina couple had been married for 15 years, but just before getting pregnant, Apple was diagnosed with uterine fibroids – noncancerous tumors in the wall of her uterus. This meant conceiving would be difficult.
“My doctor had said the fibroids would interfere with my ability to conceive. So finding out I was pregnant shortly after was amazing,” she explains.
Even more delightful for the couple was her first ultrasound, which showed they were having twins – a boy and a girl. To them, it was simply a miracle.
But things changed 20 weeks into the pregnancy when Apple was told that one of the twins, Brienne, was significantly smaller than the other, Logan.
“They told me I had to take time off work because the next six weeks would be crucial for the babies’ development. So, I did what the doctors recommended,” Apple says.
Sure enough, at 26 weeks, she went into pre-term labour. She was admitted to Regina General Hospital where doctors administered corticosteroids and other drugs to stop the labour. However, four days later, her water broke.
In the delivery room, incubators were stationed beside her bed in preparation for the twins’ arrival. Logan was the first to come out, weighing 880 grams. Four minutes later, Brienne came out weighing only 470 grams.
“They had to be incubated right away,” Bryan says. “As a dad, I felt powerless seeing them so fragile. We couldn’t hold them at the time, but we knew it was for a good reason.”
In the days that followed, Brienne was diagnosed with chronic lung disease, as well as apnea of prematurity – a condition which causes premature babies to stop breathing for up to 20 seconds while asleep. She needed several types of respiratory support to help her lungs develop. Her heart rate was also monitored around the clock.
Unfortunately, Logan’s prognosis wasn’t better. On day five, April and Bryan met with a social worker and some of Logan’s nurses to discuss his health. He was diagnosed with stage four intraventricular hemorrhage – severe bleeding into his brain tissues.
“They wanted us to understand the seriousness of his condition,” Apple says. “However, Logan fought through and gave us a precious few more weeks with him.”
Logan passed away after 29 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“The doctors and nurses went above and beyond for the twins,” Apple continues. “The equipment that helped Brienne grow was available at the NICU thanks to donations from the community, through Hospitals of Regina Foundation.”
On November 9, Bryan’s birthday, Brienne was finally able to go home with her relieved parents. She had spent 117 days in the NICU.
“Bringing her home that day was the best gift I could have received,” Bryan says. “I am very thankful to everyone in the NICU. Because of their amazing support, Brienne is doing great and thriving.”
Stories like Brienne’s remind us of the importance of raising funds, through the Z99 Radiothon and Hospitals of Regina Foundation, to support the NICU.
“Our children deserve to have the best health-care services available right here, in southern Saskatchewan,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “With the community’s support, we’ll continue to make lives better for countless vulnerable babies, because good healthcare must be local!”