Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, March 15, 2023
Jasper Myers – Special to the Record
The Rohne family is no strangers to YANA – Jenny and Jamin Rohne have four sons, and this past fall received help from YANA for their 13-year-old son Judah.
Back in the fall, Judah noticed something was wrong with his back, first noticing it in his ribs. Jenny said they went to a doctor who referred them to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Miyanji, at BC Children’s Hospital. In January the Rohnes saw Dr. Miyanji.
“So it all happened very quickly, “ said Jenny. “We saw our own doctor and physiotherapist here and got X-rays and all that here in November, and then she sent all that off. But in January, we were consulted over at BC Children’s, and we thought we would just get an initial consult. But right away he said that Judah had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.”
The doctor told them his case was severe and Judah had quite a twist in his back and would need surgery as soon as possible. Judah would end up having surgery on Feb. 13, a week before his 14th birthday.
“They basically said he urgently needed surgery for his scoliosis and that he was the perfect age where he was growing a lot,” she said. “So he could do this new surgery called vertebral body tethering. And you had to meet the criteria, which was, you’re still growing a lot and you have a curvature in your spine that is greater than 35 degrees, but it couldn’t be any more than 60 degrees.”
After an urgent MRI was done in the Comox Valley, Jenny said her son’s surgery was booked. She knew they’d need to be at BC Children’s Hospital for a week and having used YANA before, she reached out to them for support.
“Almost 10 years ago we had a crisis moment where one of our children had to be flown to BC Children’s and the emergency room doctor nursing staff had given us a YANA envelope, and that was our first intro to YANA,” Jenny said. “We didn’t really know what it was about or how it worked, but they were so incredibly supportive.”
Ten years ago, Jenny’s youngest son had fallen and badly injured himself and had to be helicoptered to BC Children’s Hospital. It was during this moment when they were first introduced to YANA. Jenny said the envelope they were given said they could call, email or text YANA at any time and they would receive support.
“From there, I did, within the 24 hours, got connected, and they put one of us up in a hotel so we could take turns on the floor with our child at the hospital for the week,” she said. “They’re amazing so basically I just looked them up and they are such good communicators. I looked them up and sent them an email and even when they’re closed, they still get a hold of you so quickly.”
Jenny said the process with YANA is easy, with no hoops to jump through, which she added is amazing when a family is in a crisis. YANA put the Rohne family in one of their apartments in Vancouver, right by BC Children’s Hospital, that they could use for as long as needed and assisted the family with other expenses.
“YANA literally supports you financially with no strings attached. It’s amazing because I think quickly, in a crisis, you can financially become in crisis too,” she said. “When you don’t know how long you’re going to be, and you’re in a big city and everything is expensive and you want to be close to your child who is at the hospital, and one parent is there and one parent is going back and forth. So it is an amazing gift to just be given a home away from home and to be able to get refreshed and be able to go back to the apartment and keep your things there.”
Judah and his parents are now back in the Valley, but Jenny said YANA has let them know they have ongoing support whenever they need it. This, Jenny said, is something she feels the Valley is lucky to have. She also noted the support YANA receives from the community is special.
“So many people personally message me or text me or comment on social media saying, how can we help or if there’s anything you need, and honestly, all these people, so many of them support YANA, and the way that YANA supports us directly, I feel like all those people that are giving to YANA are truly also linking arms with us and supporting us,” she said.
YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a not-for-profit organization in the Comox Valley that helps families who need to travel for medical treatment for their children or a pregnant mother.