WLMH staff save Beamsville ‘preemie’

Toth Family, preemie, WLMH, OR

“Instead of being a married father of three, I could have been widowed single dad of two,” Justin Toth

By Mike Williscraft


Ethan Ernest Robert Toth sure knows how to make an entrance.

It was early and circumstances life-threatening, but the newborn and his mom, Erin are living proof of just how crucial West Lincoln Memorial Hospital is to
Niagara West.

Many have heard the old adage, life can change with  the ring of your phone…such was the case for Ethan’s dad, Justin, last Tuesday when he arrived at work in Welland at 5 p.m. last Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“I was just getting my tools set up and Erin called and told me I had to get home right away. Something was wrong and she was bleeding a lot,” said Justin.

With Justin enroute, Erin

called 9-1-1 for help.

Erin was 32 weeks along on her third pregnancy, this one complicated with placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta is in the lower segment of the uterus and covers part or all of the cervix. Placenta previa can cause significant bleeding before or during delivery.

“I was just sitting on the couch and blood started running. I got to the bathroom and wrapped myself in towels,” Erin recalls.

“The bleeding was very bad and I felt pressure. The blood kept coming, all the while my 20-month-old is in the bathroom with me hugging my leg.”

“My number one priority was to not pass out, or Emmett (her toddler) would have been all by himself.”

While 9-1-1 said the ambulance was 12 minutes out, it arrived in 27 minutes from the time Erin called. She counted every second.

By that time, Justin had arrived back home.

When the ambulance attendants arrived, they said the plan was to transport Erin to McMaster, where she had been earlier that day for a regular check-up,  or St. Catharines hospital.

By the time she was loaded in the ambulance, attendents said it would take too long to get from the Toth’s Beamsville home to either site. They were redirected to West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

Typically, and this is why Erin had been under care at McMaster, WLMH does not deal with difficult pregnancies. Its obstetrics ward is vaunted for its level of care, but the facility does not have all the bells and whistles of more modern facilities.

What it does have, say the Toths, is first-rate care.

“They said I wasn’t going to make it to the General or McMaster. I was really scared for me, for the baby and for my whole family. If West Lincoln Memorial wasn’t there, I would not be here now,” said Erin.

“The people there were amazing. It was like a well-planned tornado.”

Justin said from Erin’s arrival to be prepped and ready for an emergency Caesarian took about 30 minutes and at 6:58 p.m. Ethan arrived.

The first several minutes were touch and go with the medical staff doing all they could to get him breathing on his own. Four minutes after his birth, the neo-natal team from McMaster arrived.

“He got the best possible care,” said Erin, who required five units of blood during the ordeal.

While Ethan was whisked off to McMaster immediately, Erin was transferred late the next day.

“He’s doing alright. He’s not A-1, tip top, but he’s holding his own without being intubated,” said Erin, who noted doctors want Ethan to have 10 consecutive days without any issues before he can go home.

“They are upping his food to try to get him to gain some weight, but he is struggling keeping it down.”

“We are hoping he is home for Christmas, but we don’t know.”

What they do know is they are very thankful for the medical team at WLMH.

“We just can’t say enough. They were awesome,” said Justin, trying to hold back tears.

For Erin, she worries about others, too.

“If West Lincoln Memorial is not there, or if they take it away, what are other women going to do?” asked Erin rhetorically.


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