It only takes a simple cough or cold to make you worry if your child is sleeping properly. You check in every time they stir, place your hand on their chest and listen for a steady breathing rhythm. It doesn’t take much for you to think the worst could happen.

I had many of those sleepless nights. Some were incredibly frightful – especially the ones when my son Michael stopped breathing altogether.

Michael was born with Down syndrome. This genetic disorder causes developmental delays and a variety of lifelong intellectual and physical disabilities. We had to contend with many health issues and challenges while he was growing up to be the man he is today. But we made it!

Michael’s obstructive sleep apnea was one of our most severe challenges. This form of sleep apnea is a serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night.

I saw the impact lack of proper sleep was having on Michael at a very early age. He was always restless and constantly struggled to breathe normally. We kept him in our room at night for the first few years of his life. As a result, our family got very little sleep as well. I was constantly worried that he wasn’t breathing. I would listen to him throughout the night to roll him over whenever I heard him snore. Many nights I would sit with him until I felt safe going back to sleep.

Michael suffered from severe sleep apnea by the time he was 13. The solution was a special machine that uses mild air pressure to keep

breathing airways open while you sleep. However, struggling with a limited income, the cost to first purchase this machine and then the ongoing upkeep of masks to fit our growing boy was a real hardship. Thankfully, Alberta Lung stepped in. They provided the life-saving equipment Michael needed to finally get a restful night of sleep. Almost immediately, he was coping better and woke up looking forward to school and seeing his friends. I am telling you Michael’s story hoping that Alberta Lung will receive your generous support this holiday season. Alberta Lung helped our family when we needed it most. They are a vital lifeline for families across Alberta, providing special equipment, emergency funds and other needed support to reduce the financial burden of fighting lung disease.

Michael is 18 now and doing very well. He is exploring options for his future, such as potentially attending Chrysalis Society. This innovative organization helps meet the needs of people with disabilities, including those with lung conditions while providing meaningful opportunities for growth and community inclusion.