When Jody and Tim Mugford welcomed their sweet baby girl, Amelia, in 2016, they never dreamed she would be clinging to life just two short weeks later.
After noticing Amelia was very fussy and not nursing well for several days, they took her to their family doctor to find out what was wrong. The doctor determined she had a very serious condition called supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which causes the heart to beat extremely fast. Hers was beating almost twice as fast as it should.
Amelia was immediately airlifted from her home community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador to the closest children’s hospital in St. John’s for urgent care. While Amelia’s condition temporarily stabilized once there, things took a dire turn when she began to crash due to being in total heart failure. She went into cardiogenic shock and had complete body organ failure. Thankfully, the swift action of her care team saved her life, but she was still in critical condition.
Amelia had no chance of survival without an ECMO machine—a form of life support which temporarily does the job of the heart and lungs—and the nearest one was at the IWK in Halifax. Because Amelia was critically ill, doctors told Jody and Tim that Amelia may not survive the flight to Halifax and that they should say goodbye just in case.
It was a heart-wrenching moment made much more difficult because they couldn’t accompany her on the LifeFlight because her care team was so large that there wasn’t enough room. They had to take a commercial plane to Halifax—the longest trip of their lives. They didn’t know if Amelia survived and had no way of finding out until they landed.
Remarkably, Amelia survived, but she was still fighting for her life. She was quickly admitted to the IWK’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and the worst was far from over as she continued to experience serious health complications.
Amelia had developed a blood clot behind her left knee. She also suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and was in total kidney failure. She spent many days on dialysis and had more scans and tests than her parents thought possible. Sadly, Amelia had to have her left foot amputated due to the loss of blood flow in her leg. But soon after, her health started to improve greatly.
Over the next few years, Amelia continued to be followed closely by the IWK. She was growing and developing amazingly well, but things took another drastic turn in 2019. Her family almost lost her again when fluid built up in her brain, causing pressure in her skull. She received three life-saving brain surgeries.
Amelia, now six years old, has come a very long way. She loves dancing, singing and playing with her older sister, Adelyn. She goes to school with her friends, and her favourite activity is going to the library.
In 2021, she and her family moved to Halifax to be closer to the IWK. She continues to be followed from head to toe by many specialists and care teams, including neurology and neurosurgery, cardiology, nephrology, and orthopedics.
“Our daughter wouldn’t be here without the IWK,” says Jody. “And we have developed many amazing relationships with Amelia’s care teams. They feel like family to us,” she adds.