Tillsonburg teenager needs life-saving surgery

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Kaytlyn McKibbon, 14, of Tillsonburg, needs life-saving surgery for Bilateral Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (STO).


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And she needs it this spring.

If the family can raise the money, the surgery will take place at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. It requires two major operations.

“The last few months it’s become critical,” Kaytlyn’s mother, Kim McKibbon, said.

It was Halloween 2021 when Kaytlyn started having difficulty breathing.

“That’s when she became addicted to oxygen,” Kim said.

“It started in the summer of 2020 when his left arm turned blue. They said it was a blood clot, which is unusual for a teenager. On Valentine’s Day (2021), it happened to her right arm. Last summer we thought she was having a heart attack and rushed her in. They found the clots had moved from her arms into her lungs.

“In October it was just unbearable, she couldn’t breathe without oxygen. If she is sitting, reading and not moving, she can take it off for about an hour. But if she gets up, she has to put it on.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is most common between the ages of 20 and 50.

“One in a million, ordinary people, can get it,” Kim said. “She was just unlucky.”

Kaytlyn, who graduated with honors from Westfield Public School last year, is currently attending Grade 9 at Glendale High School through an online program. She started in person last fall, but hasn’t been back since Halloween.

She is frequently hospitalized at London’s Children’s Hospital.

“Her hematologist referred her to all the vascular surgeons in the province who perform TOS,” Kim said.


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The first seven said no. Absolutely no. Too complicated.

“Normally TOS just pinches the nerve and occasionally pinches the vein, but his own pinches the nerve, the vein and the artery. So one wrong step in the surgery and you cut an artery and the patient can bleed. So the surgeons here say, ‘No, I don’t feel confident taking your case.’ That’s what we kept hearing from everyone.

They met with a surgeon in Toronto who only performs the procedure for adults. Waiting four years is not an option – she might not have years.

“We were lucky the blood clots went to his lungs (not his heart). It’s not good but it’s better than going to your brain. The risk of a heart attack or of stroke is really high.

If she raises her arms above her head, it completely clogs/blocks the blood vessels.

“If the blood doesn’t flow, it forms a clot.”

It makes simple tasks like brushing your hair and getting dressed difficult.

Her mother describes Kaytlyn as a dynamic, creative and active student whose life has been on hold for the past two years. She was an active member of the Tillsonburg Sea Scouts, and in healthier times enjoyed learning to sail, curl, swim, and camp. She enjoyed participating in drama and singing performances at school, at First Baptist and St. Paul’s United camps, and at the Tillsonburg Theater.

“Now to leave the house, one of us carries the portable oxygen for her and she walks beside us. She only goes out to go to doctor’s appointments.


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Kaytlyn spends her day with her loving dog by her side, Kim said, and dreams of getting back to a new normal, looks forward to seeing friends again, in-person school, singing again, taking walks and kayaking on Lisgar Lake.

The family has created a gofundme page at https://gofund.me/f6d485e2. On Monday, $21,809 of his $300,000 goal was raised.

This goal will match the estimated cost of surgery in Boston.

“Thoracic surgeon Dr (Dean) Donahue, all he does is thoracic outlet syndrome. Since the start of Covid, he has performed 300 surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome.

Kaytlyn’s mother contacted their bank, remortgaged the house. His father has just sold his house and is getting a share of the capital.

They were told that the operation could take place by the end of April if they could increase the deposit.

“It’s still very expensive,” Kim said. “We need to raise at least $100,000. They have funding plans in hospitals in the United States, which is scary, but…”

Electronic transfer donations can also be sent directly to the McKibbon family via email ([email protected]).

Part of the surgery will involve removing a rib. No longer pinched, most people are off blood thinners within a few months. Kaytlyn should continue to take blood thinners until the blood clots in her lungs dissolve.

“They also mentioned that they could do a balloon angioplasty, like they do for heart attack patients, and reinflate the vein because it’s so bent. But it can be done here in Canada. We spoke to a doctor in London who said: ‘Yes, if you can get a rib pulled out, I can pump up your vein.’

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