Madelyn Nichols was brought into the world at the IWK in September 2018. After her birth, she was having difficulty breathing and was quickly taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to be stabilized and cared for.
“I always felt informed and involved in all of the decisions they were making for Madelyn right from the very beginning,” says mom Shawna Nichols.
After being assessed and undergoing genetic testing, Madelyn was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 Down syndrome. Trisomy 21 can come with an array of health concerns, including pulmonary hypertension. This happens when the pressure in the blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs is too high.
“After receiving the diagnosis, I was concerned about possible health issues that Madelyn could have, so it was a bit scary. But the staff were very caring and lots of different specialists were involved to help us, and they allowed us to ask any questions we had,” recalls Shawna. “That made an incredible difference.”
Madelyn was kept on oxygen and a feeding tube until the care team felt she was ready to breathe and eat effectively on her own. While she was in NICU Madelyn had an echocardiogram done and that’s when the care team discovered she had an atrial septal defect (ASD), which means Madelyn had a small hole in her heart.
Now three years old, the IWK has continued to play an important role in Madelyn’s life. She has visited many departments at the IWK including Ear Nose and Throat, Cardiology, Hearing and Speech and Physiotherapy. In Madelyn’s last checkup the hole is still there. They plan to check on this hole again when she is five and see if then surgery will be necessary.
Madelyn is a fun little girl who loves playing with her three sisters and one brother and certainly is the life of the party!