Andrew was only two pounds, seven ounces at birth. This photo was taken when he was four days old. Photo supplied

Andrew was only two pounds, seven ounces at birth. This photo was taken when he was four days old. Photo supplied

Preemie born to 15-year-old mother; a YANA family from decades past

Andrea Postal

Special to The Record

It was spring of 1994, and Megan Lacourse, at just 15 years old, had recently moved out of her parent’s home and was awaiting the arrival of her first son, when she went into labour and found herself at St. Joseph’s Hospital months earlier than planned. Days later and still in Comox, her son Andrew was born in a footling breech presentation, weighing in at only two pounds, seven ounces.

Andrew required help breathing, and Megan recalls the pediatrician working to keep him ventilated for more than three hours while they waited for the transport helicopter to arrive.

“The pediatrician here hand ventilated my son from 8:40 in the morning. They ended up flying him to Victoria. Originally it was going to be Vancouver, but he was stronger than they thought he was going to be.”

While Andrew was getting medical attention at the NICU in Victoria, Megan was trying to figure out how she was going to stay and care for her son who was now four hours away along the Old Island Highway, in another city. She’d heard about YANA through a friend, but it was a nurse at the hospital that first connected her with YANA’s support.

“The nurses at the nurses’ station gave me an envelope, and it had $50 from YANA and a toothbrush,” Megan explains.

It was that $50 that was the start of what would be ongoing help from YANA to ensure she could travel to and stay in Victoria with her son every weekend for the 52 days he remained in the Victoria General Hospital.

“Basically we would leave every Thursday night, and go to Victoria and then come back Sunday night or Monday morning,” says Megan. “In the meantime, our vehicle broke down, so YANA supported us by paying for our hotels, as well as renting us a vehicle.”

YANA’s funding and accommodation programs provide support for about 70-80 pregnant women and infants under one each year. These families find themselves relocated for medical care in Nanaimo, Victoria, or Vancouver due to the limitations on Comox Valley Hospital’s ability to provide support for preterm births. Many of these families learn about YANA through the Hospital Emergency Funding Program, which puts no-strings-attached funds and information about YANA into the hands of parents who are sent out of the community from the Comox Valley Hospital, much like the envelope Megan received when her son was born.

This first point of contact, and the care and support that happens after families are set up with YANA, makes a tremendous impact both financially and emotionally for families, and this was no exception for Megan and her son.

“It was amazing for us,” Megan shares. “I mean, I grew up here, it’s always been a great community. But to have the solid knowledge that every week we had somewhere to stay. It made it so that the financial end of it really was not an issue for us at all. Money was certainly not something we had a lot of. I honestly don’t know how we would have managed it.”

After nearly three months in Victoria, Andrew was released home back to the Comox Valley, and Megan emphasized how lucky he was to do so well.

“He had a really smooth ride for what it could have been, considering how premature he was.”

YANA’s support didn’t end there. After returning home, YANA continued to look out for Megan and her son by providing resources to support her as a new, young mother.

“They helped connect me wih other services,” she said. “There were other organizations that brought me a baby bath, and bags of clothes and gift certificates, so it was more than the travel back and forth and somewhere to stay, it was connections with other organizations that were able to help us.”

Fast forward almost three decades, Andrew is the youngest of five siblings, and is living and working in the Comox Valley. Beaming with a mother’s pride, Megan shares that he’s doing well.

“He’ll be 27 in April, he’s a hairstylist at Chatters. He’s great.”

***

There are 2,500 Valley Vonka chocolate bars available throughout the Comox Valley, with Golden Tickets randomly inserted into five of the chocolate bars.

Each golden ticket will be eligible to win one of the following grand prizes:

• Mount Washington Alpine Resort family passes

• The Old House Hotel and Spa gift certificates

• Kingfisher Oceanside Resort, Spa and Restaurant gift certificates

• Canadian Tire $1,000 shopping spree

• Peninsula Co-op $1,000 gas card

Total value of all prizes is $7,500.

The bars are available for purchase by donation (suggested $5 donation) at:

• Parker’s Appliances

• Oh Spa

• Locals Restaurant

• Mount Washington

• The Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa

• Peninsula Co-op

• Canadian Tire

•Old House Hotel & Spa

• Hot Chocolates

• Sure Copy

• YANA office

• Bomback & Co.

• Pilon Tools

• Mackenzie Gartside & Associates

• Blinds Bubbles Boutique

• Return It Depot

• Brian McLean GM

• Living Room Pharmacy

• Bennett Sheet Metal

• Courtenay Nissan

• Ives Burger Law

• Hyland Precasting

• CSN/Reliable Auto Body

• Pharmasave Comox

• Lara Austin

• Comox Valley Record

Andrea Postal is a member of the client services team for YANA

Comox Valley

 

Andrew (middle) and his brothers, Braden Phillips (glasses) and Nick Phillips. Andrew, who turns 27 in April, is the oldest of five siblings and is living and working in the Comox Valley. Photo supplied

Andrew (middle) and his brothers, Braden Phillips (glasses) and Nick Phillips. Andrew, who turns 27 in April, is the oldest of five siblings and is living and working in the Comox Valley. Photo supplied