Reese’s Story

Apr 26, 2024 | Patients and Families

Reese’s Beautiful Life

Reese was an amazing ray of sunshine who was a joy to this earth from Feb. 2021-Nov.2022. She was just 21 months old when she went to heaven. 

“Reese enjoyed a happy, healthy & charmed life chocked full of family activities, dance class, friends at daycare, her puppy, and being the spoiled rotten baby of the family. She was your average 21 month old, with no ongoing ailments except the average cough & cold.”

She loved playing with her babies/stuffies, eating fresh berries and dancing. Dancing was in her. You could often catch her busting a move (one quite similar to the chicken dance). She was her Daddy’s girl, loving pumpkin crop check-ups and naps with him. She was her Momma’s velcro and the twinkle in her Momma’s eye. She was a bleach blonde, blue eyed sweetheart, who gave the biggest hugs and the slobbery-ist kisses. Life will never be the same without her and we long for more magical moments with her.

The night Reese passed away was like any other evening spent in our household. We divided and conquered the many activities our kids are in; Reese went with her Dad to her sister’s hockey game, while her Mommy took her brother to Karate. At the hockey game, Reese started to feel unwell, like she was coming down with a cold. Almost immediately upon everyone returning home at 9:05pm, Reese started to seize and became unresponsive, gasping for air. We called 911, and were instructed how to perform CPR over the phone. We attempted CPR and waited for the first responders. Reese’s code was called at the hospital at 10:29pm in the wake of all the nurses and doctors doing everything they could to save her.

After Reese passed, her testing came back that she had Influenza A. Her brother, Bryce, was also quite sick that week and tested positive for influenza as well. After Bryce recovered, his Family Doctor thought she heard a heart murmur and referred him to Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Cardiology, to be extra cautious in light of what just happened with his sister. Amazingly, he was referred to and seen within a weeks time. Cardiology saw a recurring pattern in his ECG that they originally thought was a cough line, but after consulting with many Cardiologists, they determined that this cough line was actually a Brugada Pattern.

“Blood tests were ordered and genetic testing on Reese’s DNA confirmed that they both have the Brugada Gene (SCN5A). Bryce was diagnosed with Type 1 Brugada Syndrome.”

Bryce has been very well taken care of by his team at CHEO since his diagnosis. In March 2023, he had a loop monitor implanted so CHEO can monitor his heart rhythms for any arrhythmias that may be occurring. He was also given a defibrillator from the Mikey Network. He travels with his AED everywhere he goes and is always accompanied by an adult. He started Quinidine in July 2023. Quinidine is an antiarrhythmic medication which provides another layer of protection for him. Bryce continues to play sports and is an active normal 5.5 year old.  He rolls with the punches, takes his medications like a champ, and is quite famous due to his goofball nature over in C18 – CHEO Cardiology. He understands he has a “special heart” and that we need to take special care of it.

Through more testing, it was uncovered that the inherited gene is through Reese & Bryce’s Mom, and her maternal family. Testing was able to go back to 2nd cousins and further.

“Reese helped uncover a silent threat within her family, spanning generations and put a stop to it affecting future generations. We believe Reese saved her brother’s life and family members beyond; this is a pretty special gift that she gave to all of us. We just wish she was still with us every day to enjoy her family and that this health awakening wasn’t fatal for her.”

We were tormented for months, that we could have done something more. We now know that all we could have done is CALL 911-PUSH (CPR)-SHOCK (AED); we did the most we could, with what we had in her final moments. 

We now know the warning signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and have been trained again on CPR. CPR is most helpful when refreshed often, throughout life. We learned that the song “Girls Just want to Have Fun” by Cindi Lauper is the beat to which you perform CPR. We learned that you cannot make the situation worse by attempting CPR. We encourage you to find out where the AEDs are in your community; they are installed in more places than you expect them to be. You never know when you can help save a life.

We talk about our Reesie constantly. We visit her grave just up the road from us almost daily. We work on her foundation, The Love4Reesie Foundation, as much as possible. We love her and include her in our family the only way we can now. She was very special and we would give anything to have her back.

You can read Reese’s Tribute at the Following Link:

You can visit the Love 4 Reesie Foundation at the Following Link: Love 4 Reesie Foundation Please consider following Love 4 Reesie Foundation on Instagram and Facebook. 

The Canadian SADS Foundation is so very grateful for the willingness of the Olmsted Family to share Reese’s touching story. Collectively we are striving to honour important legacies like Reese’s because her life story exemplifies the importance of supporting families who are affected by Brugada Syndrome and other sometimes devastating inherited cardiac disorders. By amplifying community awareness, lives can be saved.