Fighting Fire with Fire

The Walsh Family

Four days after their son was born, Jessy and Kyle named him Aiden, which means little fire in Gaelic.

Aiden was born at 23 weeks gestation because of a prior miscarriage, mom Jessy’s hormones were telling her body that she was ready to deliver. The doctors told Jessy and Kyle that little Aiden had a 50% chance of survival – a number no parent wants to hear. Believing in their son’s strength they fought for Aiden from day one and continue to do so as this little fire works hard to gain the strength to one day leave the hospital in the arms of mom and dad.

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The Walsh family dresses up for Halloween

Due to his very early birth Aiden has faced significant obstacles that included bowel perforations, a tracheotomy, even a fainting disorder that affected Aiden’s blood pressure and heart rate. 

Two weeks after Aiden was born Jessy and Kyle moved into the Ronald McDonald House® in Edmonton. At the House they felt like they were part of a community and family. Each family is in a different situation, but they found comfort and hope over the simple things like sharing a meal together or chatting over a cup of coffee.

Jessy and Kyle have gotten so close to families at the House that they were asked to be a House Hero’s godparents and take part in her baptism.

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Jessy and Kyle at their goddaughter’s baptism

The family has also become champions for programs at the House – as well as advisors on how programming and services can be improved to help families in better ways. At Jessy’s suggestion the Shuttle Program added another daily trip to the Royal Alexandra Hospital making it easier for her to spend time with her son, as well as allowing more families in the NICU the ability to get to and from the House and hospital.

In May of 2016 Kyle returned to work for a couple of weeks while Jessy remained in Edmonton to look after Aiden. During the most difficult time in this young family’s life they were faced with even more devastating news – in less than 30 seconds their entire home and everything in it was engulfed in flames from the Fort McMurray fire.

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Walsh home before the Fort McMurray fire

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Walsh home after the Fort McMurray fire

With a child fighting for his life in the hospital, and her husband back in Fort McMurray – Jessy leaned on her Ronald McDonald House family more than she had ever done before.

“I remember pacing around the kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House and talking with them – being comforted by them as I waited to hear from my husband,” Jessy remembers. “Here we are all under different circumstances and in different situations, but we find comfort and hope within each other.”

Thankfully Kyle was fine and he was able to make it back to the Ronald McDonald House quickly to be with his family.

Life is quite different for the Walsh family now. Aiden has had eight surgeries in almost as many months; with more surgeries in his future. He has never been outside of the hospital. He hasn’t seen the bright world waiting for him, but to get him there Jessy is getting as many certifications as possible to help Aiden cope outside the hospital. He still has some growing to do before the Walsh family can take him to the Ronald McDonald House and then on to their new home in Fort McMurray.

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Exploring Fort McMurray after the fire

After rebuilding their home and experiencing some devastating losses, Jessy and Kyle are looking forward to making a true home for their son and making new memories together as a family.  

“We work together to be here. We fight for each other,” says Jessy. “Aiden can go from amazing me with his resiliency to terrifying me within hours. But that’s just Aiden being Aiden.”

The future should be bright for this little fire with so much love and support from amazing parents like Jessy and Kyle who have shown their amazing strength with every challenge that has been thrown their way in the past year. 

“Aiden is a firecracker. His resiliency to live runs deep within him. He has all the qualities he needs to survive,” says mom.

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