You Made It Possible for Lauren to Breathe

Twelve. Maureen’s magic number. Just over 28 years ago, that was the number of times she’d flick her daughter Lauren’s foot in her isolette each day to make her heart restart.

Born at 25 weeks and weighing 1lb 11oz, Lauren was one of the most fragile kinds of patients that children’s hospitals encounter. And in 1995, treatment options were far more limited than they are today.

But there was ground-breaking work on the horizon.

One of the most life-threatening parts of being born as early as Lauren is lung function. At 25 weeks, her lungs had hardly developed. She just wasn’t ready to try breathing all by herself.

Alongside Lauren’s life-giving ventilator, there was also an experimental treatment.

Maureen remembers it like it was yesterday: “I was sitting next to her isolette and someone handed me papers. They told me it was a new treatment that might help Lauren survive. I signed right away.” That treatment was Surfactant.

With the dedication of Dr. Fred Possmayer and his team at Children’s Health Research Institute (CHRI), Surfactant was able to be extracted and produced synthetically to treat premature infants born with underdeveloped lungs.

This experimental treatment on premature babies like Lauren resulted in a dramatic increase in the survival rate of premature infants across Canada and around the world. This discovery is recognized as one of the top five discoveries in Ontario Universities.

Surfactant was a crucial reason Maureen and Lauren were able to head home together 70 days later in July 1995.

In 2021 Lauren joined Children’s Health Foundation as the Storytelling Specialist. During her orientation, she stumbled upon a proposal detailing how Surfactant changed the lives of premature infants like her. Growing up hearing the story of her own Surfactant treatment she was instantly struck by the importance of the research Children’s helps fund.

“I teared up right away. My colleagues had given me materials to learn about the Foundation, and there it was. We were helping support the work of Children’s Health Research Institute – like the Surfactant trials that helped me survive.”

Today, Lauren is beyond proud to be using her storytelling skills to share how Children’s Health Foundation donors transform the lives of our kids. With your help, they can become adults like her!

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