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Jesse Kilfoil

When Morgan’s water broke 11 weeks early in August 2023, neither she nor her partner, Brennan, could have predicted what their premature baby boy, Jesse, would have to overcome.

Morgan experienced a pregnancy complication called premature rupture of membranes (PROM). It’s when the water breaks before 37 weeks of pregnancy and before contractions start.

Unfortunately, this was not Morgan and Brennan’s first pregnancy emergency.

Months earlier, Morgan had tragically experienced an ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus)—a rare and life-threatening situation. She had to undergo emergency surgery at the IWK. Morgan and Brennan were, naturally, devastated, and the deep and painful heartbreak of losing their pregnancy so soon and unexpectedly made them fear they’d lose their unborn son, too.

After arriving at the IWK in August, Morgan immediately had an ultrasound, which showed Jesse’s umbilical cord had dropped out of its normal position, dangerously cutting off his oxygen, reducing his heart rate and putting him at risk for brain damage. Morgan needed an emergency c-section to try to save Jesse.

Thankfully, Jesse survived, but he weighed just three pounds and was not yet in the clear.

Jesse was immediately taken to the IWK’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for urgent life-saving care. He needed respiratory support and was placed in an incubator to help keep him warm. “I didn’t know how dangerous a baby coming that early really is,” Brennan shared about the situation.

A week after Jesse was born, Morgan discovered his diaper was full of blood. Unfortunately, he had developed a serious illness called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which happens when tissue in the small or large intestine is injured or inflamed. It is the most common and serious intestinal disease among premature babies.

Jesse needed to be intubated and have a PICC line (a long, thin tube) inserted so his care team could give him the medications and nutrition he needed. Thankfully, Jesse recovered, but soon after, he faced another major obstacle when he developed a pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding into the lung). He needed to be intubated yet again.

When Jesse’s care team discovered he had a pulmonary hemorrhage, Morgan, Brennan and their older son, Kurt, were just returning from the family lounge. They were shocked to find a large team of people in Jesse’s room crowded around his bed. “We didn’t know what was happening,” shares Morgan. “Jesse’s colour looked off,” adds Brennan.

Fortunately, Jesse’s health has continued to improve steadily since then, thanks to the swift actions of his IWK care team and the specialized care he has received. He continues to meet all his developmental goals and has even doubled his weight—a big milestone!

After spending 73 days in the NICU with their son, the family is now where they belong—at home, together.

When asked about Jesse’s care at the IWK, Brennan says, “The average person probably doesn’t understand how many magnitudes higher the level of care is here, but that’s what’s needed to help very sick babies like Jesse.” And for Morgan, she quickly adds, “It means the difference of having Jesse here with us.”


Premature and critically ill babies like Jesse urgently need you.

Please help the IWK purchase specialized equipment,
including two new incubators for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.


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