Neil's 160km Race for Kids

Why Do I Run?
Part Two: For Hadley

After the birth of our beautiful baby boy, Jacob, my wife Haylie and I knew that we wanted to continue building our family. Of course, after having lost our son, there was some trepidation, and definitely a lot of worry about what might happen with a second pregnancy.

Neil runs for his daughter, Hadley, Our daughter eventually made her long anticipated arrival. Hadley Isobel Jane McKay brought us unspeakable joy on the day that she was born.

During her first check-up, the doctor noticed that Hadley had developed some jaundice. She told us to come back in a couple of days to have that looked at. We returned for a follow-up soon after and the doctor noticed that the jaundice had progressed to Hadley’s feet. The doctor advised us that we should go to the Emergency Room right away.

We arrived at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre and Hadley was examined. At this time, everything was still calm, and we were unconcerned. This would soon change, and our lives would once again be turned entirely upside down. Suddenly, our room was a whirling storm of activity, with all sorts of medical personnel rushing in to attend to our daughter. She was whisked away to be put under a biliblanket, a phototherapy device for the treatment of neonatal jaundice.

We were informed that her bilirubin levels were exceptionally high, and that our daughter was in substantial danger. Of course, as it would be for any parents, this was extremely frightening, but given the fact that we had lost a child 363 days prior, it was perhaps even more so for us.

Shortly thereafter, our daughter was brought up to the Paediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU) where we would end up staying for days. The PCCU services a number of communities in Ontario, not just London and surrounding areas. On one night, a patient arrived via air ambulance. Unfortunately, it is an extremely busy facility. Fortunately, we were lucky to have such amazing medical care for our daughter.

After undergoing a double-volume blood transfusion, our little girl spent the night under the lights. The only contact we were able to have with Hadley was through the openings in the incubator to hold her tiny hands.

The following day, Hadley was sent to get an MRI, as high-levels of bilirubin can negatively impact the brain. The scan revealed that there was in fact, cause for concern. The fear was that Hadley could have something known as kernicterus, which leads to cerebral palsy. We were given a room to sleep in not very far from where Hadley was staying. We knew that she was in very good hands with our exceptional nurse, and the rest of the medical staff, but we still checked in on her throughout the night.

Over the course of our stay at the hospital, I continued to be amazed by the care we received. Once Hadley was moved from the PCCU, she was assigned a PCCU nurse who followed her recovery. As a father who was new to changing the diapers of a screaming child at 3 a.m., I was thankful to have the tremendous nursing staff on hand, who took pity, and stepped in to help. As an exhausted and stressed parent, this was invaluable.

In addition to the great medical care, there were services available to help alleviate our stress. During our stay, a music therapist came to visit and sang some incredible songs which we were able to enjoy.

Eventually, Hadley’s bilirubin level returned to normal, and with the doctors being happy with how she was progressing, we were cleared to go home again with our little girl. Thankfully, Hadley continued to develop normally, and eventually it was confirmed that she had made a full recovery.

Neil holds a sign for Hadley and Jacob I’m beyond thrilled to report that Hadley is now five years old, and is a perfectly happy and healthy little girl. She brings so much joy, pride, laughter, and love into the lives of my wife and I on a daily basis. She is an absolutely amazing little girl.

I am extremely thankful for the tremendous care that my daughter received. I am indebted for life to our family doctor, and to the heroic actions of the doctors and nursing staff at the hospital.

In August 2021, Neil will be running the Foxtail Hundred Rail Trail Race in Dundas, Ontario to raise money for Children’s Health Foundation, in honour of Jacob, his daughters Hadley and Eleni, and all of the children and families who use the services provided by the Children’s Health Foundation.

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Keep Reading:

For Jacob | For Eleni

Neil’s story has been featured by:

Canadian Running Magazine
CTV News London
The London Free Press
Through Not Around: Stories of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss

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