At 11 years old, Christina is finally breathing normally

This year, Christina Rancy got a very special holiday gift. Since she was three months old, she has been breathing through a tracheostomy. But on December 22, the now 11-year-old was finally able to get rid of it and take a breath of air through her nose, thanks to the team at the Montreal Children's Hospital (MCH).

Christina was born with a congenital malformation; a lymphangioma at the trachea level prevented her from breathing. She had to be intubated, but despite this, ventilation was not working.

"Following several interventions in the early days of her life, we were informed that Christina would not live long or that if she survived, her life would be severely compromised. The repeated intubations and extubations had damaged her trachea. Our family was faced with the ultimate question: should we let her go or keep her alive? Although Christina did not speak, we could feel her need to live. We made the choice of love: to keep her with us," says Hérode Rancy, Christina's father.

It is at this moment that Dr. Sam Daniel, director of the Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery department at the MCH, enters the scene. When Christina was three months old, he had to perform a tracheostomy, an opening directly into the trachea, to allow her to breathe.

It hasn't been an easy journey for the young woman from Laval. Over the years, she underwent surgery and several laser treatments to remove the tumor. Dr. Daniel then reconstructed her trachea using cartilage from one of her ribs. This was followed by several other procedures to remove scarring and expand the area.

A memorable holiday season

In December, Dr. Daniel closed the tracheostomy hole with a plug to see if Christina was able to breathe through her nose and mouth. The test was so successful that a few days before the holidays, Christina was able to remove her tracheostomy herself in the MCH clinic.

It was an emotional moment for the entire family who came to witness this important step in Christina's life.

"We had our moments of sadness as we watched Christina fight for her life from the very beginning. But Dr. Daniel and the entire medical team were supportive throughout those eventful years. Dr. Daniel was more than a doctor to Christina, he was her compass. He always encouraged us to keep hope. His dedication to our daughter is remarkable and admirable," says Hérode Rancy.

He adds that thanks to the MCH, Christina had a childhood almost like any other. One exception: the young girl was never allowed to go for a swim and enter the water above the waist, to prevent it from reaching her tracheostomy. Now that it is a thing of the past, the hole will close up by itself. This summer, Christina will be able to enjoy swimming like any other child.