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Castlegar brothers recognized for raising money to thank B.C. Children's Hospital

 Gordon McIntyre, Postmedia News

The Squires brothers Ryder (left) and Jaxson and their parents Jesse and Tom with the boysí certificate of commendation from the city of Vancouver for putting the needs of others above their own. (Gordon McIntyre photo)

The Squires brothers Ryder (left) and Jaxson and their parents Jesse and Tom with the boysí certificate of commendation from the city of Vancouver for putting the needs of others above their own. (Gordon McIntyre photo)

Ryder Squires arrived prematurely, but seemed a healthy and happy bouncing baby boy when he was born five years ago. That lasted less than an hour.

 

Ryder went into respiratory distress, his body unable to convert oxygen in sufficient quantities. The treatment he needed — nitric oxide, which relaxes tightened blood vessels so oxygen and blood can flow without interference — wasn't available at the hospital in Nelson.

He was too small for a machine to help him breath to be hooked up properly. A respiratory expert pumped air into Ryder's tiny lungs by hand. For hours.

Ryder fought for his life, unconscious, hanging on for roughly 12 hours, long enough for an infant transport team to arrive from B.C. Children's Hospital in an air ambulance.

It was touch and go; Ryder was in isolation in intensive care in the Vancouver hospital for two weeks, clinging to life.

But he survived and today runs around like any five-year-old.

To say thanks to B.C. Children's, Ryder and his older brother Jaxson came up with an idea: Sell toys through Facebook to raise money for the hospital. They wound up raising about $3,500, which they sent to the hospital foundations last year.

On Friday, the Squires brothers were awarded a certificate of commendation from Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid for putting the needs of others above their own.

"Doctors weren't certain Ryder would walk, talk or lose his hearing," his mom Jesse said. "He's our little miracle, a happy little boy full of life."

After Jaxson, now eight, and Ryder ran out of their own toys to sell in their fundraising effort, people in their hometown of Castlegar got involved: Selkirk College pitched in, neighbours and friends donated toys to sell, a friend of Jesse's cut hair for free and donated the money.

"The community just pitched in as soon as they heard about it," Jesse said.

Doctors are not sure what brought it on, but Ryder was suffering from pulmonary hypertension, his dad Tom said.

"There was absolutely no indication that anything would be wrong (during pregnancy)," Tom said. "It was a total shock. … Today, Ryder's doing amazing. There's no limit on what he can do.

"Because of the lack of oxygen, they said he may not be able to walk or run. As you can tell, there's no problem with that."

Others honoured on Friday included Angel Magnussen receiving the inaugural Wilson Liu community hero award. The 21-year-old Port Alberni woman, who has Down syndrome and autism, was honoured for over a thousand Hugginz blankets she's sewn for sick kids around the world. She also raised $330,000 to help children through her website, hugginzbyangel.com.

Others honoured were Brooke Malakoff of Fernie, who died at 20 of a rare tumour; North Vancouver's Anthony Manoukian, and the Overdose Prevention Society and Vancouver's Sarah Blyth.

gordmcintyre@postmedia.com