When Rahul was born at Surrey Memorial Hospital in 2008, new mom Nina Aurora only saw her baby for a few seconds before he was rushed out of the room.
Rahul was born five weeks early, and among the congenital problems he faced right off the bat was esophageal trachea, meaning his esophagus was attached to his windpipe instead of being a fully connected canal between his mouth and stomach.
Soon Rahul had an operation at B.C. Children's Hospital to correct the condition and had a feeding tube inserted into his stomach, which he still has and will for some time yet.
Aurora, a mortgage broker in Surrey, said it was "stressful for the first few years. He was also born without a spleen."
That fact was mentioned in passing when they were preparing to check Rahul out of the hospital. Without a spleen the baby had no immunity or ability to fight off common bacteria.
"For the first two years I kind of hibernated at home," said Aurora. "I didn't go out much, didn't let my older son go to preschool or anything because I was afraid of what he'd bring home. I had to be very careful for the first two years."
At two years, Rahul was able to get a vaccination to help protect him from the most common forms of bacteria.
But to make matters worse, Aurora and her husband split up shortly after Rahul came home from the hospital.
"Financially, I took such a bit hit that I started to panic because his supplies are so expensive," she said.
For example, Rahul's feeding machine costs more than $2,000, each daily feeding bag is $10 and then there is the formula, she noted. If the G-tube comes out, they need to rush to the hospital to have it replaced, which costs about $300.
"Those kind of costs for a single mom are hard," she said. "They're hard for a working family, never mind a single mom."
Aurora said her doctor helped her to apply for various kinds of assistance and programs, but "I just kept missing them by a hair."
Eventually, Variety - The Children's Charity approved Aurora's application.
"I don't even have words to explain what they did for me. I needed them and they came through for me, and I get overwhelmed even today when I think about it."
Variety covers supplies for Rahul and that has lifted one of Aurora's main stressors, she said.
Once she knew her baby's special needs were met, she could pay the rent, groceries and other basic needs for her and her two children without fearing the worst.
One thing Aurora emphasized is that the people at Variety are a joy to deal with, and they never judge her for needing a helping hand. Asking for help is tough, she said, especially for someone who came from a well-off home.
Just recently Aurora took a huge step in deciding to share her story at a Variety event. Public speaking was a bit scary, never mind sharing her family's story, but she did it because she wanted others to know how much the charity means to her family.
"It would really help if other moms come out because it helps other people understand what (Variety) does do for people like me, and it shows that the work really does help."
She may have a chance to share her story again at the 47th annual Show of Hearts Telethon on Feb. 16 and 17. It is the signature fundraising event for Variety. Last year's telethon brought in nearly $7 million.
The Global BC broadcast will feature a mix of concerts and interviews with Chantal Kreviazuk, Adele, VH1 Divas, Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Justin Beiber, Elton John and Michael BublÃ©.
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