|When Robert Smith was born, he was 15 weeks premature. He weighed less than two and a half pounds and lived in a neonatal intensive care unit for months. Doctors told his parents that should he survive, he would likely never walk or talk.
He not only survived, he learned to do both.
“I was in intensive therapy from the time I was little,” says the Port Hope, Ontario native, now 28. He wore leg braces to help him walk in his early years, but no longer needed them by the time he started elementary school. “Even my family sometimes looks at me and says they’re amazed that I’m here and that I’ve made it this far.”
Today, he’s an active member of his community—he works two part-time jobs, runs his own DJ business, sings with a local choir and plays on a sledge hockey team. Because of his difficult start to life, he also lives with multiple medical conditions, including Cerebral Palsy and hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain).
It’s for those reasons, and an allergy to penicillin, that Robert has worn a MedicAlert ID for years. But it was a car accident that made him realize how important MedicAlert is.
Last November, Robert and his father were rear ended as they were driving home. The impact briefly knocked Robert unconscious and he was rushed to hospital.
When he arrived at the hospital, Robert’s MedicAlert did his talking for him. “I was in shock and answering their questions was difficult,” Robert says. “The nursing staff and doctors just flipped over my MedicAlert ID to learn about my conditions.”
Fortunately, his injuries were considered minor, yet he’s still grateful for the help MedicAlert provided that day. Because of this experience, he has since convinced his partner, Kristen Connors, to subscribe to MedicAlert as well.
Kristen’s life started out similar to Robert’s. A host of medical conditions early on led to many weeks in hospital and doctors also told her parents that she’d likely never walk or talk. Years of intensive therapy helped her learn to talk but she can only walk for short periods of time. You can read about Kristen’s MedicAlert story here.
She lives with a number of serious medical conditions, including fibromyalgia, scoliosis, anxiety and depression, and is allergic to a significant number of drugs as well as latex. Recently she briefly passed out at a local fast food restaurant, saying her body just “gave out” and is grateful that Robert was there to help her.
“Robert convinced me that it’s important to have MedicAlert because of all of my medical conditions and drug allergies. I want emergency personnel to be aware of the drugs that I can and cannot take,” says the 25-year-old, who lives in nearby Coburg.
Robert is also encouraging his parents, both of whom are in their 70s and have heart conditions, to subscribe to MedicAlert.
“I tell a lot of people to get a MedicAlert ID now,” Robert says. “I just keep saying it will help you, it will protect you, it will explain to medical personnel what they need to know. I want the people I care about to be protected.”