Winnipeger mother ALDA RUIZ shares her beautiful story of courage and faith as she stood beside her late son MICHAEL who was born with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, a medical condition that occurs when a newborn inhales fecal in his/her lungs before labor and delivery.
Friday the 13th of July when Alda gave birth to Michael 26 years ago. It was a dream come true for her and her husband Tante to have a boy after their first born daughter Amanda. Alda had a normal pregnancy and never had any health concern. Shortly after baby Michael was born, he had trouble breathing and had to be brought to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Tests showed his lungs were severely damaged. He needed to be put under a specialized breathing machine called the High Frequency Jet Ventilator to breathe and maximize oxygenation.
Alda recalls she was in the chapel of St. Boniface Hospital where then newly-born Michael was confined, “Around 3:30 AM, I was crying and fervently praying to God to heal my baby and begging Him not to take him away. Suddenly, an elderly lady with a very calm and beautiful face approached me and reassured me that my son was going to be okay.”
The old lady was right. After several weeks, Michael stabilized and was transferred out of NICU. Alda and Tante were hopeful Michael would grow as a normal child despite what he suffered at birth. But unfortunately, his case was one of the most severe forms. From then on, he had countless and numerous admissions at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where he spent his first two years.
For all his life, Michael had to depend on long term ventilator to breathe. He got mental and physical disabilities and spent the latter part of his life on a customized wheelchair.
A nurse by profession and was president of Philippine Nurses Association of Manitoba for a period of time, Alda set aside a full time career and devoted most of her time taking care and looking after beloved son.
Despite Michael’s medical challenges, mental and physical impairment, Michael grew up as a very happy and loving person. He attended classes and finished secondary school at Maples Collegiate. He was like any normal child who loves car rides and adventures. “He was always full of smiles and gave lots of hugs. “, Alda shared.
Alda’s husband would always take Michael on road trips outside of the city and he loved it. The family built lots of lovely memories with Michael as they went on family vacations to Disney World, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary,Toronto, Kenora, Fargo, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Sioux Falls, and Greenbay, Wisconsin.
Traveling with Michael was never an easy feat. “We never traveled light. Aside from having his power wheelchair, we have to make sure that we had a spare ventilator, two suction machines, two feeding pumps, enough Oxygen tanks and other supplies like suction catheters, dressings, feeding tubes and bags.” In all these trips, Alda happily recalls she would never forget bringing his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine toys, books and DVDs.
“Despite the challenges of these trips, it was always worth it when you see his smile. How I loved the very tight hugs that he always gave us“, she shared.
Alda knew Michael’s life was going to be short lived. Each admission in the hospital brought scare and worry. The doctors were amazed how Michael bravely fought life despite his severe condition.
Michael passed away on January 25, 2014. Up to his last breathe, his positive spirit and bravery were incomparable. “Nothing could prepare parents like us on the most difficult moment of losing a child. When he left us, we were very devastated.”
Through the 26 years of his son’s challenging and beautiful life, Alda and Tante have remained positive and faithful. “There were times I got stressed and scared and feared losing my son many times. Yes, I have to admit that I questioned Him one time, for I am only human after all. But despite all the trials and tribulations we faced, our Faith in God never wavered.”
To keep the memory of Michael alive, the Ruiz family made it a mission to support organizations that help kids with disabilities like those that saw their son throughout his lifetime. On the first year Michael celebrated his birthday in heaven, Alda organized a fundraising event to raise money for the PICU of the Children’s Hospital. In that year of 2014, the family was able to raise $9,244 which the hospital used to purchase Optiflow Nasal High Flow Oxygen Machine for PICU and some TVs, DVD players, portable DVD players and toys for the long term ventilated children.
Two years after, this 2016, to honor Michael’s memory on his birthday, Alda sets up “A Night Out in Memory of Michael Alden Ruiz ” in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation. The foundation provides modified equipment to physically challenged children like her son who depended on his customized wheelchair throughout the latter part of his life. It also sends special children to camps.
This year’s fundraiser— Bud Spud and Chicken will be held at the Essence, Garden City Canad Inns on Friday, July 15, 2016 from 6 – 9 PM. Tickets are $15.00 and receipts for tax credit may be issued.
Alda wants to thank everyone who joined her family in her journey and those who have been suppporting her in her fundraising effforts. For donations and tickets, please contact Alda Ruiz at (204) 694-6691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Somehow this fundrasing helps us ease the pain, heal and move forward.”