A Moose Jaw mother is saying thanks after an airline helped her be with her newborn son at a children’s hospital in Edmonton.
Katie Fehr’s son Jaxson was born last February in Moose Jaw.
“When he was born, he cried right away and we thought everything was okay,” Fehr told the 980 CJME Morning Show. “They moved him over to the scale and the nurses were cleaning him and doing all their stuff.”
But things quickly took a turn for the worst.
“All of a sudden they said that he was going a little bit dusky and his oxygen saturations were dropping.”
Jaxson was moved to the Regina General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before the family was transferred to Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
Space restrictions on the air ambulance meant Katie and her husband, KC wouldn’t be able to travel together. The couple were also told the plane could leave at a moment’s notice.
Fehr and her family frantically called several airlines to find a way to ensure the entire family could get to Edmonton with the infant.
Finally, WestJet was able to accommodate them with a “compassionate ticket.” The Fehrs could pay a flat fee and re-book the ticket as many times as necessary, so long as there was a seat available on the plane.
When the day came, Fehr wasn’t able to travel with her husband and son. She said leaving them was one of the hardest things she’s had to do.
“It’s the most awful feeling to leave your baby, your brand new baby, and leave your husband and know that they’re going up in the plane and you’re kind of on your own to get there,” an emotional Fehr said.
Once at the Regina airport, she immediately discovered the kindness of WestJet staff.
“I was not looking my best, it had been 11 days of rollercoaster: brand new baby, uncertainty, little sleep,” Fehr said.
She described the woman at the counter as kind, and offering to do whatever she could to get Fehr on the plane.
When she arrived in Edmonton, Fehr was treated to another kind act from staff: a WestJet employee was waiting to greet her and wait with her for her luggage.
While waiting, he shared that he had been through a similar experience when his son spent time at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
“He talked about the great care that he had received, all the wonderful doctors and nurses and how this was a state-of-the-art facility,” she said. “So a little bit of reassurance on my end.”
The man hailed her a cab and gave the driver a voucher to cover the fare. This happened so quickly she actually made it to the hospital before her husband and their two sons.
The kind acts from WestJet didn’t stop there.
After expecting to only spend two weeks in Edmonton, the family ended up living there for three months.
The Fehrs stayed at Ronald McDonald House. The organization has a partnership with WestJet, and provides families with one flight to use once per year — which the Fehrs used to get home to Regina at no charge.
“After 91 days in hospital, we just wanted to run out of there and never look back.”
She shared her experience with WestJet on Facebook and it went viral, gaining more than 13,000 likes and over 1,600 shares.
And, as luck would have it, she would be able to thank the WestJet employee, Ben, after someone tagged him in the post.
“I couldn’t remember his name. I was kind of in a fog but, of course, I looked at his picture and sure enough that was him,” she said.
“I don’t know if he remembers, it was probably just something small in his day to walk a customer to his cab but for me, it really meant the world.”