Doctors in South Africa told the parents of Aurora Blomerus that there was nothing they could do for their newborn baby. The problem: little Aurora was born with a condition called gastroschisis, which means some of her intestines were born outside her abdomen.
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It’s a condition that, in many cases, can be easily corrected with surgery. But in Aurora’s case there were complications — specifically, a clot had stopped blood flow to the child’s small intestine, causing that part of her body to, for lack of a better word, die. That left little Aurora with just six centimetres of functioning small intestine — not nearly enough to help her survive.
The news left the Blomerus’ devastated but not without hope. Aurora’s mother, who is a Vancouver, British Columbia, native, contacted Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children in search of answers. The Blomerus’ were encouraged to come to Canada, where they have been living since last fall. Over that time Aurora has spent all of her time slowly but surely recovering from a troubled start to life.
Now, it appears Aurora is in stable enough condition to leave the hospital for the first time since arriving in November. Those at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children credit a unique approach to childcare that involves treating the very young like babies rather than small adults.
Alaine Rogers, an occupational therapist woh works at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, recently explained how the system — known as the Beanstalk Program — works.
“We can’t control the medical situation they have going on and how that will impact their lives,” Rogers said. “But we can definitely provide them with as many opportunities to engage in play, interaction, exploring their environment, getting them out of bed, getting them moving to the greatest of our ability to counteract some of that impact, to help them meet their developmental milestones.”
Aurora’s parents say they believe the Toronto hospital’s unique approach played a huge part in their child’s recovery. “It was very incremental, the whole way,” noted Aurora’s mother. “They gave us a few tasks to work on initially. And when she’d get good at those things they’d identify something else that had to be worked on and we moved forward. And you know, she’s really caught up, thanks to them.”