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Abigail Wipf

Abigail Wipf


"Doctors suggested that we terminate the pregnancy." says Abigail's dad Henry. "But we know there are babies who survive without amniotic fluid for a little while. So we weren't giving up until she did."

Abigail Wipf was born on May 22, 2014, in Red Deer, Alberta. Arriving early at 23 weeks, her parents knew to anticipate a few complications, but given that her mother's water broke at 20 weeks, they had no idea what to expect of the journey ahead.

When Abigail was born, her lungs we so underdeveloped that they had not produced air sacs or vessels yet. She needed to be transferred to Calgary where there are more acute care medical resources, so the Neonatal Intensive-care unit (NICU) team from the Foothills Hospital in Calgary flew to Red Deer to help transport her. "It took then 3 hours to get an air tube in," says Henry. "Her lungs were so stiff. They had to massage the tube into her lungs. Then they spent about 2 more hours stabilizing her for transport." Within a few hours of being born Abigail was separated from her family. With Abigail on her way to Calgary, her mom Christina needed to stay at the Red Deer Regional Hospital center to continue to fight a rare blood infection that she contracted while pregnant, which unfortunately was passed onto Abigail during delivery. "The doctor said he hasn't seen this specific infection in the blood since 2008," says Henry.

With his wife in the hospital in Red Deer, his new daughter in the hospital in Calgary and his other children at home with relatives, Henry checked into Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta. Christina joined him in Calgary a few days later. They knew it was important to stay close to Abigail during this time. For three weeks, doctors tried different antibiotics to fight Abigail's blood infection, but nothing worked. Some medications would work for a few days, keeping symptoms at bay but nothing actually fought the infection, except for Abigail. "She was fighting incredibly hard." Says her Dad. "By this time we had been spinning our wheels for a month, but we still needed to find the big guns. Not only were the medications not fighting Abigail's blood infection, they were hard on her kidneys, her heart and prolonged her development in many ways." She was fighting so hard just to stay alive that many of her body's basic functions, like swallowing, didn't develop.

In addition to her infection and her inability to swallow, Abigail's lungs were collapsing. For a total of 60 days, Abigail was intubated. Similar to treating her blood infection, ventilators only worked for a week or so, and then the doctors would have to try something else. "The most important thing with Abby is tiny, little steps. Skipping steps or taking too big of a step doesn't work for her," says Henry.

Eventually, Abigail began to show signs of improvement as her blood infection cleared up. After being in the NICU at the Foothills hospital for four months, Abigail was transferred to the Alberta Children's Hospital to focus on her respiratory issues. Once at the children's hospital she spent four months in the NICU and three weeks on unit 2.

On Christmas Eve, Abigail had been taken back to the Pediatric ICU in critical condition because her lungs were totally collapsed. "Abigail's lungs were so collapsed, they had turned white," said her Dad.

"We didn't know if Abigail was going to pull through," says Henry. "We spent most of the next day talking with doctors about that."

Struggling to intubate a sedated Abigail, it was decided to paralyze her and try again. At this point, the Wipf family had no guarantee if their "little Abby: was going to breathe or move again and it was now brought to their attention that she would need laser eye surgery since her eyes had deteriorated so much. After another 3 months of being intubated and on a ventilator numerous times, Abigail's lungs started to open and she finally started improving again. Once she was well enough, she received a tracheostomy. "After that surgery Abby turned the corner and never looked back," says her Dad. "even the doctors were amazed that she no longer required eye surgery." At this point, Abigail stayed on Unit 2 for another 4 months before she was released back to the hospital in Red Deer for an additional 2 weeks and then finally home.



- The Wipf Family

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Sarah Faith Hogan

november 8, 2004 - january 22, 2006

The Sarah Faith Hogan Memorial Foundation was formed in loving memory of Sarah Faith Hogan and is dedicated to the selflessness and courage of Sarah’s grandfather and mother, Chuck and Cathy Hogan.


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