Velestuk Family at Park


The Velestuk Family is very grateful to the NICU for ensuring the survival of their son, Sebastian, who was born premature and spent 67 days at RIH.

Richelle’s pregnancy had been nothing out of the ordinary. She was able to maintain her active lifestyle and for the most part, was feeling great. But in December, 2016, after returning from an exciting shopping trip to buy supplies for the new baby, Richelle knew something wasn’t quite right. Upon her doctor’s recommendation, she went straight to Royal Inland Hospital’s Labour and Delivery department. Examinations and an ultrasound revealed that at just 24 weeks and 2 days gestation, Richelle was in preterm labour.

Richelle was given medication to halt labour, but since the baby was so young, doctor’s advised her that the best chance for the baby’s survival in case of imminent delivery was for Richelle to be immediately airlifted to BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver. “We were shocked. It all happened so quickly. Richard had an hour to pack, and soon we were in an air ambulance headed to Vancouver,” Richelle remembers.

Richelle stayed in hospital in Vancouver and on January 19th, Sebastian was born at just 2 pounds 12 ounces, and 27 weeks and 5 days gestation. “Considering he was so premature, it was quite remarkable how well he was doing,” recall Richelle and Richard. “But nothing can prepare you to see your tiny baby surrounded by a large team of medical professionals, and hooked up to so many monitors. You expect this to be the most exciting day of your life, but we were filled with so much worry and so many unknowns.”

After almost a month in the NICU in Vancouver, Sebastian had survived the critical first few weeks of his life. It was now time for him to be transported back to Royal Inland Hospital for the remainder of his premature care. Over the next few weeks at RIH, baby Sebastian continued to grow stronger. A team of medical professionals including nurses, pediatricians, and respiratory therapists would monitor him daily. “We were treated like family at RIH. We could cry, laugh, rant. We knew our baby was being loved and cared for, even when we couldn’t be there,” Richard explained. After spending 67 days in Royal Inland Hospital’s NICU, Sebastian was able to go home in time for Easter – one day after his original due date, weighing a healthy 9 pounds and 8 ounces. It was a bittersweet time for Richelle and Richard; it was wonderful for Sebastian to be off all the monitors and to be finally home, but it was hard to say goodbye to everyone in the NICU. Today, at two-and-a-half years old, Sebastian is thriving. He is funny and polite, and loves to give his parents lots of hugs and kisses. This experience has given Richelle and Richard a greater appreciation for life, while Sebastian reminds them to enjoy the simple things, each and every day. If you are a patient or family member and would like to share your story, we would love to hear from you! You can either fill in the form or contact our office at 250-314-2325.