A Port Sydney three-year-old is home and recovering after undergoing major surgery in Toronto at the end of last month.
Scarlett Seymour was born with an omphalocele, meaning her liver, stomach, gallbladder and bowels developed on the outside of her body. The surgery she had on Oct. 28 was a partial repair to put half of her stomach into her abdomen. Putting her organs into her body too quickly could affect her heart and lung function, and since Scarlett has been on oxygen support since birth, her doctors are taking a slow and cautious approach. After seeing their daughter go through so many pokes and procedures, parents Amanda and Jay Seymour were anxious to send her into yet another surgery.
“It’s never easy because the last time she had major surgery, we were told she wasn’t going to come home and that there was no chance of survival,” Amanda said. “So my husband and I were very nervous leading up to and going into surgery and all you can do is pace the floor while you’re there.”
Scarlett was in a good mood heading into the procedure, Amanda said, and they arranged to have child life specialists help Scarlett understand and cope with the surgery before it happened. Everything was looking good heading into the operation, and not too long after, Amanda and Jay were greeted with great news.
“The surgeon came and found my husband and I in the waiting room and was like, ‘Everything went better than expected, better than planned,’” Amanda said. “Two hours after the operation, she was extubated so they took her breathing tube out right away, and she did so well that we got discharged after eight days.”
Scarlett has never done so well in surgery before, so they were excited to see her doing so great so quickly after the procedure. It’s not easy to see your child in the hospital and have no control over what doctors do to them, Amanda said, but the doctors and nurses did everything they could to keep her safe and help her recover quickly.
A friend of the family whose daughter was undergoing surgery for the same condition as Scarlett was also in town, so they were lucky to have the support of their friend along with family support to help them through the stress, Amanda said. Four or five days after the operation, Scarlett took her first post-surgery steps.
“It’s a half repair, but still, [while] walking, her equilibrium and balance was way off,” Amanda said. “She had to kind of learn how to take those first few steps again.”
After Scarlett was discharged on Nov. 5, the family headed back to the Ronald McDonald House. They planned to stay for the weekend, but since Scarlett was doing so well, they ended up heading home the next day, weeks earlier than expected.
Scarlett will be heading back to SickKids in six months to get the rest of her stomach put inside her body. She also has appointments lined up to address her scoliosis, so Amanda is hopeful that her other upcoming procedures will be just as successful.
“I’m still kind of in shock actually because our expected length was to be away for over a month and she’s blown us away on this one again,” Amanda said. “You never know what this little one’s going to come up with next, so I just hope her next surgery is just as quick as this one.”
For now, Scarlett is at home recovering with her mom while also getting back into a normal routine with physiotherapy and other medical appointments. She’s been even more talkative since being in the hospital, so it makes her family happy to see her learn new things everyday.
After spending Scarlett’s first Christmas in the hospital and going back and forth to the hospital during her second holiday season, Scarlett’s family is eager to have Christmas at home. Now that Scarlett is three, Amanda is hoping this Christmas will be the first one where she starts to understand the holiday and is able to participate with family.
Without the support from Port Sydney and the surrounding community, the coming months filled with appointment after appointment would be particularly difficult, Amanda said. It’s been incredible to see so many people stand behind them and offer help through food and other necessities along with the $27,000 raised through the first-ever Mary Lake Marathon.
“It’s amazing,” Amanda said. “We would have been financially strapped a little bit with appointments every couple of weeks or months, but knowing that we have such a great community behind us, that burden of it is taken off.”
To make a donation in support of Scarlett and her family, click here.