Sarah and Kyle Lesage are no strangers to YANA.
Their first encounter with the generosity and support of the community-funded organization was in 2017, when their first-born, Harvey, was airlifted to Victoria with a suspected pneumothorax shortly after birth. YANA was immediately there, supporting the family with money for food and travel. Harvey made a full recovery from what ended up being a treatable infection, and after three days the family returned home full of gratitude for the support they received while he was away.
No more than a year later, Sarah, Kyle and Harvey were anticipating a double blessing to join their family; the twins were due to arrive in late fall, but in August 2018, Sarah’s water broke at just 27 weeks pregnant. Much like their big brother, the twins seemed to have their own big entry in mind, which included airlifting Sarah emergency, this time to Vancouver, to watch and prepare for an early arrival.
The twins were born at Royal Columbia Hospital where they spent the next 2.5 months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Kyle and Sarah were once again welcomed back with YANA support, including emergency hospital funding given to them when they left Comox Valley Hospital. YANA also took care of arranging and covering the cost of an Air BnB while they were away, as well as providing financial support that would help ease some of the weight of Kyle’s lost wages. Most importantly, they were able to focus their much-needed attention on their very premature twins, not the financial and logistical challenges of being away from home.
Fast forward to February this year, the couple welcomed a fourth child into their family, a beautiful baby girl named Elenni who was born at Comox Valley Hospital. While the couple had high hopes for a sweeter start to their last two birth experiences, little Elenni had other plans.
“Although her delivery was everything I had hoped for after a traumatic experience with the twins, the minute she came into the world she was not acting like a typical newborn,” Sarah said. “She was lazy and lethargic. I didn’t get that skin-to-skin contact that I was really hoping for. Instead, they put her on an oxygen mask and brought her to a room where they monitored her with what little they had in the hospital for infants who needed extra care.
The hospital was concerned about a possible brain bleed as the cause of Elenni’s breathing problems. By morning, a helicopter had been arranged to fly her to Victoria where she could receive a higher standard of care.
“I couldn’t fly with her because I had just come out of surgery the night before, and we needed a vehicle once we got there. So while Elenni was brought in by helicopter, I was delivered by ground transportation and Kyle drove behind,” Sarah said. “It was extremely heartbreaking to be separated from her at just 12 o’clock. But we knew that feeling all too well and we had to be brave once again.
The family also knew that they could count on YANA again. There are no limits or lifetime maximums with YANA’s funding and accommodation programs, and the couple were blown away by the unconditional support of what they had come to know as a true gift and a lifeline, directly from their own community.
“We hoped we wouldn’t (need) this time, but alas, YANA was there to offer support again,” Sarah said, describing how YANA was there almost immediately, no questions asked.
“I felt extremely guilty for needing to rely on YANA for the third time. But they made me feel so loved and cared for. Like a feeling with no strings attached, no guilt.
“(We received) $200 cash before we even left the hospital, and Kyle was put up at Jeneece Place, so the stress of where he was going to stay was taken away immediately. We could focus on our little girl. We were once again overwhelmed and humbled by YANA’s generosity. It really is a great organization. »
Fortunately, Elenni’s condition turned out to be much less critical than first suspected. there was no cerebral hemorrhage and the medical team believed that her breathing and feeding problems were due to the fact that she was born three weeks before her due date.
She was placed on an NG tube and remained in the NICU for a total of 10 days.
While at Jeneece Place, Sarah befriended another mother of a 25-week-old boy who was also away from home and struggling to make ends meet.
“She had to fundraise through GoFundMe to pay for her stay and lost wages. I can’t imagine the added stress of trying to take care of a baby who needs extra care. I think every community needs such a helpful and loving organization like YANA.
Realizing how special a YANA organization is and how much it really takes a community to make what they do possible, made it obvious for the couple to step up and help in any way they could. possible. Kyle, among myriad talents, is an experienced videographer and tech guru, and has helped the organization set up the complicated livestream component for YANA’s Big Love virtual event for the past two years. and it was an honor for them to give back.
“(Kyle) has seen firsthand how the whole community supports YANA,” Sarah said. “Having YANA by your side is like having the whole valley holding your hand. We are honored to be part of the giving and receiving of YANA and the generosity of the Comox Valley.
Over the past five years, YANA has supported the Lesage family through three births, four babies, and many long days and sleepless nights away from home. Thanks to the incredible support of a community that continues to say yes, families like the Lesages can know that no matter what awaits them on the road, they don’t have to walk one of those days alone.
YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering assistance to families in the Comox Valley who need to travel for medical care for a child or a pregnant mother.
For more information, visit yanacomoxvalley.com
Valley of ComoxYANA