Comox Valley family dealing with preterm baby receives ‘unexpected gift’ from YANA

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, March 21, 2023

Jasper Myers – Special to the Record

When Danielle and Gibson Roth welcomed their second premature baby in January, they knew what it entailed, but they were not expecting what happened next.

Right there in the delivery room, Danielle was resting after just giving birth to their daughter, and Gibson was approached by a nurse who first introduced the family to YANA.

“When Eleanor was born, a nurse came up to me and gave me, like, $200 cash. And I’m like, I don’t know what that’s all about,” said Gibson Roth. “And they’re like ‘Oh, that’s YANA.’ And they explained to me kind of the situation.”

Roth said he first tried to refuse the money, insisting the family wasn’t in need and didn’t want to take it away from someone else who may need it. However, he said the staff at the hospital explained that the services YANA provides are for everyone and insisted he call as soon as possible. Danielle said multiple people at the hospital checked in to make sure they knew about YANA.

“We had multiple people at the hospital make sure we got in touch with them [YANA] and double-check that we’d gotten the money and that we knew about their services,” said Danielle. “So the hospital staff were really great about that too.”

Their daughter, Eleanor, was due March 6 but was born January 19, at 33 weeks and two days (seven weeks early). Eleanor had to be taken to Victoria since she needed to be intubated and hooked up to an IV and the Comox Valley doesn’t have the NICU services to care for an infant born that early. So, as Danielle and Eleanor took off via helicopter for Victoria, Gibson followed the instructions from the nurse and called YANA.

“I called Kourtney, and it was amazing,” said Gibson. “We got a hold of Kourtney before we even got down there. And before I got to Victoria, my hotel was booked. She had sent me an allowance for travel expenses. I can’t describe to you the burden that took off of us, and it just allowed us to focus on Eleanor.”

Danielle and Gibson Roth previously lived in Campbell River where they welcomed their first-born, Norris. At that time YANA wasn’t available to them, and Gibson said they spent about $3,500 in savings during their time in Victoria with their son.

“The cost we incurred to him were quite a bit the same scenario,” said Danielle. “It’s last minute and you’re trying to find a place to stay and you’re out of town.”

This time around Gibson said YANA made a big difference.

“It was just so much less stressful because YANA kind of came in and helped us with that,” he said.

The Roths spent a month away from home, with two weeks in Victoria and two weeks in Nanaimo. YANA supported them the entire time, covering accommodations for them their entire time away.

“The two weeks we were in Nanaimo… YANA stepped in, and covered the hotel the entire time that we were down there,” he said. “We probably wouldn’t have been able to stay in a hotel for that long. We would have had to figure out family arrangements or whatever it was, but again, it just freed us up to focus on our kids and not have a whole bunch of distractions that we would have if our kids are born anywhere else.”

The first time around, Danielle said they stayed at Jeneece Place, but this time they were full. She said having YANA step in and help out was “amazing.” She said she didn’t know YANA even existed until the nurse handed them the cash in the hospital right after she’d given birth.

“It does just extrapolate such a blessing because you can’t be prepared to have a premature kid,” said Danielle.

“We don’t have a budget or a bag packed or anything ready to go. I mean our savings account would probably have been drained. Having her out of town without their ability to support us, give us hotels and travel expenses and meal allowance.”

Danielle and Gibson said YANA constantly checked in with them to see how they were doing and see what they needed.

“Kourtney specifically was amazing,” said Gibson. “By the end of it all, she just felt like extended family. She just checked in, asked for pictures, asked for updates, and yeah, just super involved. That’s best thing that ever could happen.”

Now the family is back in the Comox Valley and Gibson said everything is great.

“We’re home now, and Eleanor is healthy and happy, and we’re just getting used to a new routine,” said Roth.

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.