Isabella requires round the clock care in her home to ensure she is breathing and not suffering any complications.

Isabella requires round the clock care in her home to ensure she is breathing and not suffering any complications.

UPDATED: Round the clock care for child changes Aldergrove father’s life

Donations may be made to the BlackPress4Good.com website set up for the Olmr family: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/buRve

An Aldergrove father is struggling physically and financially in dealing with his young daughter’s serious health issue.

It’s a round the clock responsibility as Isabella Olmr, now one year and three months old, has a rare condition that simply causes her to stop breathing.

It started a mere five hours after her birth, when doctors observed “episodes of apnea with severe oxygen desaturation and apparent seizure activity.” Doctors call it hypoventilation syndrome as she shows no respiratory drive but they have not been able to determine the cause.

As a result Isabella has spent the entire first year of her life in BC Children’s Hospital, where she had a tracheostomy placed in her neck just over a year ago to assist her with her breathing. A ventilation system is connected, and sensors — a SAT monitor — set off alarms when there is a problem with her heart rate or oxygen levels. G-tube feeding was also used until Isabella started taking food from a spoon as approved by doctors at Children’s Hospital.

Her father, Andrew, has undertaken the responsibility of being her sole caretaker after separating from Isabella’s mother in January. He also cares for their eight year old daughter, Rachel, in the home he’s owned in Aldergrove for the past nine years.

“Her mom wanted (Isabella) to go to a foster home but I refused,” says Andrew.

“I took the training; I took a crash course for three months at Children’s Hospital. There’s a lot to know.”

Andrew, 49, renovated his house as well as fought a custody battle over the children for most of the first half of this past year, while he prepared to provide care for Isabella in his home.

He also quit his job as a heavy equipment operator, after 25 years of working in the business, and is getting by for now on employment insurance.

“I’ve not been able to work since February. There’s no way to go to work every day if she’s in my care.”

The province funds up to two eight-hour shifts of nursing care daily in his home for the time being, but the uncertainties and financial stress are taking their toll.

He also has to take Isabella to Children’s Hospital for regular medical checks.

Every time Isabella leaves home for appointments Andrew must also have a nurse accompany them in case there is an emergency.

Isabella came home on her first birthday in mid-August, two days after her first birthday, and has endured a few challenges — a couple of seizures, and she had to go back to Children’s Hospital for a week in October when she came down with a bug, likely a flu or cold.

“The seizures happen when her blood sugar is down, so I feed her apple juice for that. But her brain sometimes doesn’t send the signal to breathe, so she’s on a ventilator except for about four hours a day.

“She’s strong in some ways though. When I feed her baby food she doesn’t inhale it in her lungs; she’s got that figured out,” says Andrew.

“The long-term hope is that maybe in five years she can be off the ventilator during the day when she’s awake. But they don’t know that for sure, they can only guess.”

Andrew is coping with the stresses for now but doesn’t know what will happen when the money runs out or if the in-home support comes to an end. His employment insurance ran out last week and he’s waiting to hear if he’ll qualify for parental EI. Welfare is not a viable option and he’s not able to return to work just yet either.

He’s been reaching out to agencies such as Abby Dads and Encompass, and the provincial children’s ministry is also hoping that charitable organizations will come to the family’s assistance with food hampers, clothing and the like to keep the family going.

Reaching out for help is awkward for Andrew, who is used to being a private person, but he has come to accept that he needs it.

“It’s like working 10 jobs. Sometimes I’m up for 40 hours at a time, if a nurse calls in sick or whatever and they can’t get someone else in.

“My life has taken a 180 turn, it’s forced me to change who I am as a person.”

Andrew does not want the public to call him at his home, but if anyone wishes to help out donations may be made to a trust fund for the family via the BlackPress4Good.com website set up for the Olmr family:  https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/buRve

Andrew Olmr feeds his year old daughter Isabella at home, where she wears a ventilation tube all day long to help her breathe. Isabella requires round the clock care in her home to ensure she is breathing and not suffering any complications. (Kurt Langmann photo)

Just Posted

Chilliwack Fire Department on scene at a house fire on Boundary Road and No. 4 Road on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (David Seltenrich/ Facebook)
Fire crews respond to house fire on border of Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Flames, dark smoke reported coming from front of house when crews arrived

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

AHL president and CEO Scott Howson believes the new Abbotsford franchise is off to a strong early start. (AHL photo)
AHL president: ‘Tremendous success’ selling season ticket deposits for Abbotsford franchise

President and CEO Scott Howson optimistic about new Vancouver Canucks affiliate in Abbotsford

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

Most Read