Skyler Poirier with her mother Eleanor at home in Aldergrove. Now 15 months old

Skyler Poirier with her mother Eleanor at home in Aldergrove. Now 15 months old

Skyler beats the odds for a ‘good life’

Aldergrove 'premie' baby and family helped by Variety Club

A family from Aldergrove has a personal interest in the upcoming 49th Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon, taking place on Global BC this weekend, Feb. 14-15.

Skyler Poirier was born prematurely by emergency C-section 15 months ago, after only 25 weeks gestation.

Skyler was tiny, so small that her arm could comfortably fit inside her father Dan’s wedding band. She was also underdeveloped and weak, and required ventilation and oxygen support for the first six months of her life. In Royal Columbian Hospital she contracted pneumonia and her lungs collapsed. Doctors were not hopeful she would survive.

You wouldn’t know any of this to see Skyler today, though. She’s healthy, happy and strong, with a smile that could steal your heart. She’s a bit small for her age, at only 17 pounds, but she’s fully capable of feeding herself solid foods, crawling and standing up — even taking her first tentative steps.

“She’s just a tough cookie,” says proud momma, Eleanor. “She’s our little happy girl.”

Skyler was a twin but unfortunately her fraternal twin was miscarried ten weeks earlier and did not survive.

“Instead of my body absorbing the fetus, my body forced out the tiny baby along with the placenta,” said Eleanor. “Skyler’s placenta tore because of the distress and bed rest was mandatory.”

Eleanor was confined to bed rest for ten weeks after the miscarriage before her water broke and she was rushed to RCH for the emergency C section on Oct. 30, 2013, when Skyler was born.

“Skyler was 25 weeks and four days old at birth and weighed 720 grams (a pound and a half) and was a foot long,” said Eleanor, “She required ventilation and oxygen support for the first six months. She required a NG feeding tube. In the hospital she contracted RSV, pneumonia and had several collapsed lungs. She was once the sickest patient at Royal Columbian Hospital.”

Eleanor was discharged after five days but because she was unable to walk or drive Variety Club stepped in and covered the cost of Eleanor’s room and board nearby for the first week so that she could take a taxi for daily visits.

Then, “In December, 2013, the doctors actually gave us the choice to remove her from all support. We said, do everything you can for her, anything,” said Eleanor.

“It was the most scariest and sickening feeling to think that she may not have a life time, not knowing if she would make it to a year, another day or even to the next minute. The doctors gave her every medicine they could think of while consulting with Children’s Hospital and told us not to even consider the long-term side effects if we wanted her to survive now, at this moment.

“Her major problem was her breathing. She needed the JET ventilator and 100 per cent oxygen for a month and was very slow to wean to the next steps down. She was in the hospital for 131 days, before coming home on oxygen support, an oximeter and a NG tube,” said Eleanor.

Eleanor had been driving into RCH twice a day to be with Skyler, while taking their son Caleb, 10, to school and back home for dinner. Dan had also taken time off his truck driving job to be at Skyler’s side, although it became easier when Skyler became strong enough to be transferred to Abbotsford Regional Hospital in February of 2014.

However, “When Skyler was discharged from the hospital and able to come home she required oxygen support and an oximeter. We were unable to cover the costs of the oximeter. Variety paid for it and Skyler was equipped with the proper medical devices so that she could finally come home,” said Eleanor, who also thanks Bayshore Home Health Care and the provincial health ministry for providing in-home nurses to help care for Skyler for 12 hours every week until December 2014.

“Bringing her home was so important. She needed to start thriving in a home environment with her family. She needed continuous love around her at every moment. Within two and a half months of Skyler being home, she no longer needed oxygen support. Her lungs had grown and developed well enough to be taken off it.

“She still requires the oximeter at night and may possibly require oxygen in the future if she were to become ill. Variety helped us bring our baby home.”

Skyler positively thrives being at home, continuously gaining weight and is meeting all of the developmental stages for her corrected age. She has been able to socialize, is being able to be held all the time and is learning how to play with toys and explore her environment. She is able to go for walks outside. She loves being outside. She smiles and is beginning to laugh.

Coming home has been the best thing for little Skyler.

The 49th Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon: Surprises and ‘Little Victories’ for 2015

The 49th annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon airs February 14 and 15 on Global BC and has a few surprises in store for British Columbians. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and winding up at 5 p.m. Sunday evening, the two-day show features heartwarming stories of children in B.C. helped by Variety – The Children’s Charity, concerts showcasing the music industry’s biggest stars, and innovative ways for viewers to engage with the show – including winning a new car.

Vancouver’s pre-eminent blogger Miss 604 joins the team this year, reaching out with live and interactive social media updates using the hashtag #SOH2015 from the new “Show of Hearts Social Lounge sponsored by Miss 604” at the event. Join the conversation by including @Miss604 and @VarietyBC in your tweets.

This year’s entertainment lineup features Paul McCartney, Lady Antebellum, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow and Elton John in musical specials sure to delight audiences young and young-at-heart. Along with the concert performances, the Telethon will also feature live performances by special guests, and the inspiring stories of children who, with Variety’s support, face their individual challenges with courage and determination.

Viewers will also have a chance to win a new Ford Fiesta generously provided by Variety’s friends at Ford Canada. Visit variety.bc.ca for full contest details.

“The Show of Hearts Telethon is our biggest fundraising event of the year,” says Bernice Scholten, executive director of Variety.

“We see each child as a champion, capable of achieving remarkable success. Our show salutes the little victories of kids across the province and we invite viewers to celebrate with us.”

For almost 50 years Variety – The Children’s Charity has provided life-saving, life-changing and life-enriching support to children in B.C. who have special needs. Tune in to see more stories of children in B.C., celebrate their individual little victories, and see how your donations make a difference.

Variety – The Children’s Charity raises funds and distributes grants throughout British Columbia to inspire hope, enrich lives and build a better future for children who have special needs. Since 1966, Variety has raised over $170 million to provide life-saving, life-changing and life-enriching support. For more information on how you can support Variety -The Children’s Charity, visit variety.bc.ca