June 22nd, 2024

Young Hurricanes fan and his family thankful for Children’s Miracle Network


By Lethbridge Herald on December 26, 2022.

Herald Photo by Justin Seward The Piecharka Family, from left, Kayla, Barrin, Leo and Brett drop the ceremonial puck drop during between Canes captain Joe Artnsen and the Kelowna Rockets' Elias Carmichael during Nickelodeon night on Dec. 16.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Children’s Miracle Network has helped many families over the years including Lethbridge’s Piecharka family  in 2021.

The Piecharka family  of Kayla, husband Brett, as well as sons Leo and Barrin  are diehard Lethbridge Hurricanes fans, and had the opportunity to be ambassadors for the Nickelodeon Night for Children’s Miracle Network.

They did the ceremonial puck drop at the Lethbridge Hurricanes versus Kelowna Rockets game on Dec. 16.

“The Lethbridge Hurricanes are something that has bonded us as a family,” said Kayla, through a text message, prior to a phone interview.

“We look forward to putting on the jerseys (and) the cold walk into the rink. It’s that feeling you get when the lights go out, the song comes on and your team storms the ice… it’s watching my sons stand quietly in the dark singing ‘Oh Canada’ and knowing that there  a part of something bigger, something really special. To put it into words, like all the best things, it’s something we just feel.”

It was between Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network donor-funded program that help provide critical care programs, specialized treatments and technologies to families in times of need.

“We did not ask,” said Kayla.

“They just do this to help kids at the children’s hospitals. In our case the Alberta Children’s Hospital.”

Leo was born in June 2021 and was not breathing properly.

X-Rays revealed that he had a cyst on his lung that had grown.

“So at this point … he is like nine days old,” recalled mother Kayla.

“We end up getting the X-Ray and one of the surgeons from Calgary phones and says, ‘If his breathing changes, take him to emergency.’ So we took him to emergency that night just out of pure caution because he had been really sleepy; so he’s 10, 11 days old (on) this day. Dr. Buck, in the emergency room, actually, thank god for him. I laid Leo down and his oxygen saturation went to about 67 per cent. Which if you say to a medical professional, they actually gasp and go, Oh my god. So he was not making it. We were sort of watching our son slip away.”

Leo was then transferred to Alberta Children’s Hospital by a medical biplane that was funded by the donor-funded program because it was uncertain if the  STARS helicopter was pressurized enough to save Leo’s life.

“The PICU transport team is a bunch of specialists — respiratory therapists, nurses — … (that) packaged up my 10-or-11-day-old son and took him,” said Kayla.

Leo went in for a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery to take out the lower lobe of his lung in order to remove the cyst at 14 days old.

“What they found was happening was the cyst was growing because the oxygen that he had been on is feeding it,” said Kayla.

Leo came back to his family seven on a special ventilator that was funded by the donor-funded program.

“It was a really intense thing to see your 14-day-old baby come back with ventilators and machines stuck to him,” she said.

Leo was diagnosed a month after his surgery with Congenital Pulmonary Lymphangiectasia, a rare developmental disorder involving the lung.

Kayla said, “He’s good,” on Leo’s progress at now one-and-a-half years old.

“He’s got an MRI coming up at the end of March to see (where) things are at,” she said.

“But he’s good. He’s a hockey nut just like his brother. When we drive by the Enmax Centre, in fact, he’s hockey, hockey, hockey. He’s amazing.”

The Western Hockey League introduced a brand new charitable initiative this season that is driven by Re-Max in partnership with Paramount Global’s Nickelodeon. The Nickelodeon Night for Children’s Miracle Network will go towards supporting local Children’s Hospitals in Western Canada.

The specialized Nickelodeon-themed jersey were  auctioned off and the proceeds go to the donor-funded program.

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