Talia Ruttan wasn’t supposed to live past one hour.
She then wasn’t supposed to live a day. One week. One month.
Now, the two-year-old Courtenay toddler is crawling, and learning how to walk. She can blow kisses and knows how to say ‘mom.’
For her parents Kelsey and James Ruttan, whose weeks are filled with medical appointments, every small progress by Talia is taken in stride.
“She’s doing really well, all things considered,” said Kelsey.
Just before New Year’s Day two years ago, Kelsey went into labour at 29 weeks, and was rushed to Victoria General Hospital on New Year’s Eve for an emergency C-section.
When she woke up from surgery, she found out her daughter was stillborn.
“I don’t remember the first few days, but my husband said it looked like I was broken. I tried to cry out, but I couldn’t speak.”
Her doctor worked on Talia for five minutes, and finally managed to resuscitate her, but told the Ruttans she would most likely live in a vegetative state.
Kelsey said she and her husband were originally told they may be faced with the decision when to take their daughter off life support.
Talia defied odds, and three months after she was born, was able to finally come home with her parents to Courtenay.
Kelsey noted doctors believe it was an early uterine infection which may have caused the early labour, and following the initial MRI on Talia’s head, they determined she suffered a level four brain bleed in her left ventricle.
“Strangely, having her born premature may have actually helped. Doctors said some of her nerves weren’t fully developed and the blood didn’t cause as much damage as it could have,” added Kelsey.
Talia’s first month was spent at Victoria General Hospital, and with the help of local charity You Are Not Alone, Kelsey and her family was able to stay at Jeneece Place while she was in the hospital.
They were then transferred to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for another month, and thanks to Variety – The Children’s Charity, were able to stay in a hotel nearby.
Following what Kelsey described as “a waiting game” with a three-month hospital stay, the family came home.
Talia visits physiotherapists, speech pathologists, audiologists, neuroradiologists and eye doctors on a regular basis, but Kelsey said she is “beyond ecstatic” with her progress.
She is currently being fed with a G-tube, needs oral therapy to help her learn to swallow, and struggles with tight muscles and ligaments in her legs.
In September, Talia was able to make a huge step in her development by pulling herself along the floor; “she’s understanding the concept of feet,” added Kelsey.
Shortly before Christmas, she received Botox injections in her legs which helps loosen the tight muscles, enabling her to sit up straight and stand.
Therapy has helped significantly, noted Kelsey, as Talia’s hand used to be clenched tightly but now is open and is able to grab and touch.
“She’s definitely going to be left handed,” she added with a laugh.
While medial appointments will continue, Variety has pledged to assist the family with additional costs not covered by the medical system.
The annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon is scheduled this year for Feb. 14 and 15, with all funds raised in the province staying in B.C.
For more information, visit www.variety.bc.ca.