P.E.I. mother delivers baby 3 months early to prepare for stem cell transplant

Ben and Jenn McInnis's baby, Kane, was delivered three months early in Halifax because his mother has been receiving chemo treatments to manage an aggressive form of leukemia as she awaits a bone marrow transplant.

Ben and Jenn McInnis's baby, Kane, was born 12 weeks premature so his mother can undergo chemotherapy

Jenn and Ben McInnis's son, Kane, was two pounds two ounces when he was born. He will remain at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax until April, his original due date. (Submitted by Kelley Lea)

A mother from Charlottetown is drawing strength from her newborn baby in a Halifax hospital this winter, as she undergoes treatment for an aggressive form of cancer while awaiting a bone marrow transplant.

The day before Jenn McInnis's ultrasound last fall, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer known as acute myeloid leukemia. 

To allow her to proceed with treatment, doctors delivered her son, Kane, in January — 12 weeks before his due date. He weighed just two pounds two ounces.

McInnis's husband says his wife had been in and out of hospital, receiving two rounds of chemotherapy before their son was born. She is now undergoing a third.

"She's staying as positive as she can. She's doing good right now," said Ben McInnis, who is spending much of his time in Halifax hospitals with his wife and child. 

"She'll be going for another aggressive form of chemotherapy and radiation, to basically clean her bone marrow out so they can administer the stem cell transplant." 

'He's just so sweet and small'

Ben and Jenn McInnis with newborn son Kane and seven-year-old Kash. Ben McInnis is living with his family in Halifax through the duration of their hospital stays and is unable to work. (Submitted by Kelley Lea)

Kane now weighs three pounds four ounces. He is living in the neonatal intensive care unit of the IWK Health Centre and will likely be there until spring. 

Doctors have been able to remove an intubator and he's now breathing on his own. He's fed donated breast milk through a tube. 

The newborn's progress is keeping his mother hopeful, McInnis says. 

"We're allowed to take him out and bond and sit with him as much as we want," he told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon. "He's just so small and sweet. It breaks your heart to sit there and hold him."

In order to be closer to Jenn and the baby, Ben McInnis had to stop working, adding financial worries to their health concerns. 

The couple's seven-year-old son is finishing his Grade 2 year in Halifax. 

Fundraisers planned

"It definitely helps having the whole family together," said McInnis. "It's been a long ride. All we can do is go one day at a time and take each day as it comes." 

Meanwhile, friends and community members back at home have been rallying together to raise money for the family. 

They're holding an online auction, with prizes ranging from lobster to a wine tasting, and a benefit concert that will be held Feb. 21. 

Jenn McInnis is from Charlottetown and Ben is originally from Uigg. He says he never expected the outpouring of help and support from acquaintances and even strangers. 

"It's amazing when they've done," said McInnis. "I don't know how to thank them enough."

He says the family's next challenge will be getting through the round of chemo and preparing for the stem cell transplant. 

They hope to be back home on the Island in the summer. 

Ben McInnis says his baby son is doing well and they're able to hold him. (Jenn McInnis/Facebook)


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