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Bo, Freddy, and George Bailey

Kayla and Kevin never imagined that the IWK would become such an important part of their lives. Their three boys—Bo, Freddy, and George—are all under four years old and all rely on the specialized care of the IWK.

Bo, the oldest, was frequently sick as an infant, especially after starting daycare. In 2021, when he was 15 months old, he became very ill with a high fever and a swollen cheek. “He was exhausted and not himself at all,” shares Kayla.

Kayla and Kevin were very concerned and took Bo to their local hospital in New Brunswick. Bo’s care team discovered he had Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), a severe bacterial infection. Hib is rare and can cause serious and life-threatening illnesses, including meningitis. Bo was admitted to the Pediatric Clinic for the night and received antibiotics administered through an IV. 

The pediatrician treating Bo referred him to the IWK’s Immunology Clinic to undergo specialized diagnostic immunology testing, which is only available at the IWK in the Maritimes. It was important to find out why Bo had gotten so sick from Hib and why he had often been unwell the months before.

The IWK discovered that Bo has an immune deficiency disorder, meaning he has a weakened immune system. His body can’t fight off infections or viruses like healthy children can, which puts him at serious risk. He now relies on weekly immunoglobulin (Ig) replacement therapy at home to help better protect him.

Little did Kayla know then that Freddy and George would also come to need the specialized care of the IWK and for different reasons than Bo.

Freddy and George both have cleft lip and palate (both birth defects), which occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. A cleft lip and palate can cause cosmetic abnormalities and other complications, such as feeding difficulties and speech and language delay.

Freddy was only five months old when he had his first surgery (a cleft lip repair), and at 15 months old, he required a cleft palate repair. Although both procedures went very well, his recovery from his second surgery was a lot harder.

“He was in a lot of pain and discomfort. He didn’t want to eat,” shares Kayla. “Kevin and I were heartbroken to see him like that.”

After his surgery, Freddy spent five days in IWK’s Medical, Surgical, and Neurosciences Unit (MSNU), recovering and being fed through a syringe before he could return home.

Although he’s home, his medical journey to correct his cleft lip and palate is far from over. He regularly sees a speech-language pathologist because his speech is delayed, and he will need other surgeries when he’s older.

George’s medical journey is just beginning. He had his cleft lip repaired in January 2024 and, like Freddy, will need many more surgeries. George has also experienced many other challenges, including difficulty eating and relying on a feeding tube for nutrition. “With a cleft lip and palate, there’s more to deal with than most people realize,” says Kayla.

Although Kayla and Kevin hoped their boys would never experience health challenges, they take comfort in knowing the IWK and IWK donors are there for them and other Maritime children and families who require advanced care close to home.


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