On October 6th, 2008 parents, Troy and Dayna gave birth to a 9 lb, 9 oz. baby boy. Jayden Strattner-Brown was the picture of health, and a beautiful addition to their family which already included three-year-old daughter Belle.
When Jayden was 10 weeks old Dayna and Troy began to notice some symptoms that caused them to think Jayden may have a urinary tract infection because his diapers were dry through the night. On Christmas Eve Dayna and Troy buddle up Jayden, and took him to the near by hospital. The emergency room doctor ran some tests, and after examining him informed Dayna and Troy they could go home and enjoy Christmas with their family; Jayden’s tests showed no abnormalities or cause for alarm. The family left the hospital relieved and convinced that they were just being overly-concerned parents. They returned home to spend Christmas Day with family, but despite the assertions of the doctor the night before, they became increasingly worried about Jayden. By Boxing Day they could not longer deny something was definitely wrong with their son, his diapers remained consistently dry through the night, sleepy, and pale. To get the best care possible they decided it was time to go to a pediatric hospital, and once in the emergency examining room at the Winnipeg Health Science Centre Children Hospital the doctors quickly detected an irregularity in Jayden’s heart. A series of tests ensued, and Jayden cried as the medical team poked and prodded his little body. Dayna held Jayden closely to her chest to comfort him as he reeled from the repeated intrusions on his body, then without warning Jayden’s heart stopped and his little body turned blue and became still in Dayna’s arms. The nurse quickly pulled Jayden from Dayna. The room immediately became alive with a flurry of doctors and nurses who began working on Jayden. Dayna and Troy stood helpless as they watched the medical team perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation on their son, stunned that their beautiful baby boy was laying close to death and there was nothing they could do to help him. As the Emergency Room continued to fill with more members of the medical team it was too much to bear so Dayna and Troy had to leave the room, and anxiously paced the halls of the hospital, fearing the worst.
When the doctor was finally able to meet with them they learned Jayden was still alive, but he was not out of the woods by any means. Jayden needed to be put on life support and unfortunately, there was no pediatric surgeon available on Boxing Day to perform the procedure. The medical team made a desperate call to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, and received their first piece of good luck: the team in Edmonton happened to know of a pediatric surgeon visiting a family in Winnipeg for the holidays. Without hesitation the doctor came to the aid of the family and the medical team at Winnipeg Children’s Health Science Centre. Jayden was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart in which the main pumping chamber becomes enlarged, weakened, and cannot pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body. In Jayden’s case, it caused heart failure. Jayden needed medical care beyond what the hospital in Winnipeg could provide and the air ambulance was therefore dispatched from Edmonton. Even with Jayden on life support there was no guarantee of the outcome, and the decision was made to baptize Jayden as they waited for the air ambulance to arrive. The family gathered around the hospital bed where Jayden lay hooked up to tubes and monitors to keep him alive. They prayed as the pastor baptized their 10-week old son, and whispered messages of love and encouragement into his ears.
When the team arrived to transfer Jayden from Winnipeg to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Edmonton, the family had to say their goodbyes; they didn’t know if they would ever see their son alive again. There was no additional space available on the air ambulance for Jayden’s parents, so they headed for the airport to follow their son to Edmonton, not knowing what they would be faced with when they arrived. With little time Troy and Dayna were only able to grab a few necessities before boarding the plane to Edmonton, and had to leave their daughter Belle to be cared for by family. Dayna and Troy found themselves unexpectedly uprooted from their lives, away from the support of family and friends as they made their way to the Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit, two provinces away, to be with their baby while he fought for his life.
Jayden remained on life support for six days before they were able to stabilize him and begin the process of extubating him and over the next few weeks Jayden’s health began to slowly improve. Thankfully, Troy’s work was very supportive of the family and continued to pay his salary when he wasn’t working, so he could be there for his family in their time of need. However, weeks turned to months, and Troy had no option but to return Winnipeg to go back to work. Dayna remained in Edmonton, separated from her daughter and husband and faced with making the day to day medical decisions on her own. The cardiologists continued to treat Jayden’s Dilated Cardiomyopathy, but his health once again began to deteriorate, and it became apparent that the only option to save Jayden’s life was a heart transplant. In February of 2009 Jayden was officially listed for a life-saving heart transplant. Dayna remained isolated from family and friends in Edmonton and, she was faced with the fact that some other family would have to lose their child’s life in order for Jayden’s to be saved.
In an effort to provide support to the family, the transplant social worker contacted the David Foster Foundation to help cover the costs that were mounting up, and to try to keep the family together. With the help of the David Foster Foundation Troy and Belle were able to fly out regularly for visits, and provide much needed moral support for Dayna and Jayden. On May 29th, 2009 during a family visit they received the call they had been desperately waited for; there was a donor heart for Jayden and it was a match.
After almost four hours of surgery the family received the news that the transplant was successful! Over the next few months, Jayden and Dayna remained in Edmonton while Jayden slowly recovered, and Troy and Belle flew back and forth regularly from Winnipeg. Without the financial help of the David Foster Foundation it would have been impossible for the Strattner-Brown family to remain so closely connected, and still manage to cover their basic living expenses. The David Foster Foundation continued to support the family’s frequent travel until they could be reunited in Winnipeg. Troy and Dayna maintain Jayden’s strength and determination to live was because they were able to be together as a family by his side.
Almost seven years after his transplant Jayden continues to take anti-rejection medications every 12 hours which will be required for the rest of his life. He has regular blood work done to ensure his body continues to accept his new heart, and will always have to have his health closely monitored, but despite that, he remains a happy, healthy boy with aspiration of becoming a professional soccer player.