It’s 4:00 am and Breanna’s dog, Benny, has woken her up with his whining and pacing in her room.

Breanna shares this story and tells us “he does this every once in a while, as sleeping through the night is a new thing for him. It’s a new thing for all of us actually”.

Breanna is a 14-year old who has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a condition that interferes with the regular functioning of the auto immune system. For Breanna, her digestive system was compromised, and in infancy, she was placed on a life-sustaining intestinal feeding tube.

“Up until last year, Breanna’s feeding pump severely limited what she could do,” explains Leanne, Breanna’s mom.

“Quality of life was determined by a four-foot power cord and a battery that could only last for a few hours at a time.”

For 13 years, Breanna’s feeding tube needed to be manually flushed every two hours over a 24-hour period. Any backlog in the tubing would risk Breanna’s health, and she would end up very sick and often hospitalized. The two-hour flushing schedule was essential, despite the barriers that this caused for Breanna and her mom.

More recent advances in feeding tube pump technology has seen a change from a manual flushing system to an automatic one with a much longer battery life – an exciting development that affords the patient and their caregiver much more freedom.

Last year, Variety Alberta provided a $2,000 grant to Breanna’s family to purchase this new pump.

“We were so thankful to have had the financial support we got from Variety. I certainly couldn’t have done this on my own. I see so many positive changes that this new pump has had on Breanna’s life and on her self-esteem. She is happier and less self-conscious as she doesn’t have to stop her world to flush her new pump.

Kids don’t even know that she has a pump now – this is pretty big for Breanna!”

Breanna is now attending high school on a part-time basis and recently participated in a photography skills competition, placing first out of seven students in Grades 9-11.

“It is amazing to watch Breanna try new things and see her worry less about things” says Leanne. “She is the greatest hero I have ever had the pleasure to witness and stand beside.”