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A Lifeline in the Dark: The Canuck Place 24 Hour Phone Line

October 19, 2015

In 2008, Nick and Lisa were given a diagnosis they were already far too familiar with. Their three week-old daughter, Amrym, had the same mitochondrial disease that had taken her older sister, ten-week old Rachel, five years earlier.

“When Amryn’s diagnosis was made, we were exhausted, grieving, heartbroken and crushed,” said Lisa. “But we also knew we would fight fiercely on our daughter’s behalf, desiring for her the best life we could possibly give her, for as long as God would let us keep her.”

Determined that their youngest daughter would not spend her entire life in a hospital room, Nick and Lisa began preparations to take her home. Canuck Place staff were on hand to provide a tour of the house, and explain the options their family had.

“We were never made to feel like we were making the wrong decision to bring Amryn home,” explained Lisa. “We were just being given another option if things at home got too difficult to handle.”

Ultimately, the family chose to care for their daughter at home, and so, armed with medicine, boxes of tubes, syringes, pumps, and feeding bags they returned to Aldergrove.

On their first night, Amryn pulled out her feeding tube, but the Canuck Place 24-hour care line was only a phone call away. A nurse expertly guided Nick through the process of gently guiding the tube back in. They would call Canuck Place several other times in the coming weeks, and even at 12:05 am on New Year’s Day, a nurse was there to answer questions and provide reassurance.

When it became clear Amryn’s time with her family was near it’s end, they ultimately decided to keep her at home for her final hours, but Canuck Place was still there to support them.

The night before her daughter passed, Lisa noticed that Amryn’s breathing had become laboured, and feared her daughter was in pain. Calling the phone line once again, a Canuck Place doctor suggested a small dose of morphine.

A morphine prescription can be difficult for doctors to give over the phone, and with less than 30 minutes before their local pharmacy was set to close, the clock was ticking. Luckily, the doctor at Canuck Place was able to reach a pharmacist and secure their prescription, all while Nick raced to reach their pharmacy before closing time.

A simple enough act, but one which provided so much comfort to Amryn and her parents.

“It is my hope that Canuck Place will be available for many, many years to other families that need their care, and that other hospices like it could be opened across the province and nation-wide,” said Lisa. “We just feel that we could not have given Amryn the care we were able to without the support of Canuck Place. I am thankful that other families like ours can give their children the best possible life, for as long as it may be.”

You can fund the 24-hour care line, so families like the Vanderven’s can continue to receive the support they need. Donate Today.

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