Generous Gift Will Help Kids Get Healthy Night Sleep

An Ontario family is rejoicing following news of a significant philanthropic gift that will help establish a new and critically-needed sleep lab at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.

Air Canada Foundation granted nearly $80,000 to Children’s Health Foundation to purchase sleep monitoring equipment essential in making a new lab a reality.

Jennifer and Matt know first-hand the impact sleep issues can have on a child’s health and well-being. They also know how important it is for London, Ontario to have its own sleep lab.

Physicians diagnosed their son, William, with obstructive sleep apnea at eight years old. Without treatment, his airway would collapse during the night – stopping him from breathing.

William’s oxygen saturations should have been at about 95 per cent during the night. But they were plummeting to 50 per cent.

“It was scary,” says Jennifer, recalling the many nights her and her husband woke up worrying about their son not being able to breathe.

Today, William uses a BiPAP machine that forces air into his airway to keep it from collapsing. But to receive a diagnosis and treatment, he had to go through multiple sleep studies.

There are currently only two academic paediatric sleep labs in Ontario and their services are in high demand – wait times can be up to a year or more.

The labs are located at SickKids in Toronto and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

“We feel strongly that a sleep lab in London is urgently needed,” says Jennifer. “For us, travelling to Toronto is quite an ordeal as we live in rural mid-western Ontario. It took us more than five hours to get to our last appointment.

“Such a long trip requires two adults and two unpaid days off work as William has cerebral palsy and requires a high level of care. We also must pay for a hotel, meals, parking, childcare for our other three kids and gas for our wheelchair van.

“Children’s Hospital, on the other hand, is only about two hours from our home. Another sleep lab in Ontario would also reduce wait times. We were told our son should be seen yearly to adjust his BiPAP settings but have waited over two years for his next appointment.”

The new sleep lab will protect the mental and physical health of more than 350 children and teens annually who are potentially struggling with sleep issues. It will also take some pressure off the other centres that are handling an increasing number of requests for services.

Research shows that undiagnosed sleep issues can result in mental health and behavioral issues, hyperactivity and inattention, decreased academic performance, heart concerns and – even death.

Thank you, Air Canada Foundation, for helping to establish a critically-needed sleep lab at Children’s Hospital. You will be protecting hundreds of children every year!

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