A young Brandon couple is three weeks into a bedside vigil over their two-year-old boy after a STARS ambulance flight to Winnipeg ended in tragedy.
The fate of Morgan Moar Campbell is even the more traumatic since the boy with the easy smile and endless energy wasn't that sick to begin with, his parents said.
"They told us when they took him that he's in very good hands. And now, we're here and he's brain damaged," his mother, Emily Moar, said Tuesday at Winnipeg's Children's Hospital.
"It breaks my heart. I just can't picture him like that because he was just a happy little boy," Moar said, her eyes tearing up. Morgan is hooked up to a feeding tube in pediatric ICU at Children's Hospital. He was switched off life support last week, and while he can breathe on his own, each breath is a struggle.
Morgan had a seizure at home in Brandon May 2 and his parents took him to the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
SSLqThey told us when they took him that he's in very good hands. And now, we're here and he's brain damaged'
Without the proper diagnostic equipment, doctors sent him to Winnipeg. To do that safely, they put Morgan into a medical coma, which meant he couldn't breathe on his own, requiring the insertion of a breathing tube.
A search on Twitter shows STARS logged the call for the chopper to Brandon on May 2 at 6:59 p.m.
At a meeting with STARS officials May 10, the family said they were told a breathing tube -- their boy's lifeline and only source of oxygen -- became dislodged. It was discovered pulled out after the helicopter landed in Winnipeg.
The extended family said there must be some explanation for how a tube, 7.6 centimetres long, could be pulled out of a tiny child's lungs, along with a mouthpiece that was taped in place.
Out of frustration, relatives turned to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to help navigate the province's health-care system.
"Morgan is not here because he had a seizure. He's not here because of what happened in Brandon. He's here because he was deprived of oxygen for 30 minutes when his breathing tube was dislodged," said the toddler's aunt, Bonnie Moar.
"We want an explanation. How does a tube come completely out of a baby that's paralyzed. How does that happen?"
STARS medical director Dr. Doug Martin said Tuesday he's not free to discuss any details of the case.
Instead, Martin read a statement in a phone interview from Edmonton Tuesday to say what happened to the boy is the focus of an internal investigation.
"A thorough review of this call is now underway, the outcome of which, and any recommendations, will be shared with the family in a transparent way," Martin said.
Martin and STARS Winnipeg operations vice-president Betty Lou Rock, a trained critical care nurse, have met with the family to discuss what happened, Martin said.
"I want to be sure I communicate that we understand how difficult this is for the child's family. Our hearts go out to them. They have the deepest sympathies of everybody on the team," Martin said.
A health spokesman for the province is aware of the "tragic incident" and said it is currently under review by Manitoba Health.
Moar and the boy's father, Blair Campbell, have spent nearly a month away from their Brandon home at Morgan's bedside in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Hospital. They spent his second birthday on May 21 at the hospital, not that Morgan was aware of it.
In all that time, the toddler hasn't once spoken their names or shown any sign that he recognizes them.
"He opens his eyes," said his mom. "But he's not aware," his dad said.
"He's not going to be able to walk by himself. He's not going to be able to feed himself and they may have to put a tube in his trachea to breathe," his mother added.
"We want to speak to the people who transported my son here and we want them to tell us what happened, face to face," the father said.
Martin wasn't willing to comment on that request Tuesday.