When you look at the joy that radiates from the Zarkechvari Miller family you, as an IWK donor, should know the role you played in their happiness. After a seven-year, heartbreaking journey of trying to expand their family, Shannon and her partner Kian learned they were pregnant – with triplets! “To say we were shocked would be an understatement,” said Kian. “But we were over the moon to finally give our daughter Myla the siblings we dreamt of.”
Everything was going well with Shannon’s pregnancy until January 2020 when she found herself in labour — two months early. Lillianna entered the world first, coming in small and mighty, and was soon followed by her sister Tahlia and then their brother Alexander.
Premature babies are at risk for a condition called Respiratory Distress Syndrome and this was true for all three Zarkechvari babies. They were experiencing a lack of oxygen at birth and having difficulty breathing and were immediately transferred to one of the new private rooms in the IWK’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for care.
“Having the triplets born so early was frightening,” said Shannon. “But we were comforted by being together in the same room with access to the life-saving equipment our babies needed to survive.”
Under constant care in NICU the babies started to thrive. However, Alexander suffered a set-back as he developed an air leak. Here, air escapes from the lungs and puts pressure on the lungs from the outside. He needed acute emergency care to save his life.
“It’s a moment I will never forget,” said Kian. We waited so long and to lose my son would have been so devastatingly heartbreaking.”
Thankfully Alexander survived and in March 2020, the triplets were healthy enough to go home one by one. Since being discharged, the Zarkechvari babies continue to visit the IWK for perinatal follow-up appointments. Lillianna was diagnosed with a small heart murmur so she continues to be monitored by the team at the IWK Children’s Heart Centre.
“Having the critical care we needed provided by the team in NICU was vital for our babies to survive,” said Kian. “We are eternally thankful to everyone who invested in the unit, because by doing so, you invested in our babies.”