Spirit of Giving

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You never know what lies ahead for you, your family, or friends.

IWK Health Centre Patient, Ben Harris

Ben Harris

Have you ever wondered what IWK stands for?  Officially “Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre” but to me it means, “Investing in Wonderful Kids”.  It is a truly inspiring place that we, as Maritime parents, treat as an insurance policy – we want to have it if we need it but hope to never have to use it.  At least that was our philosophy until the day we needed it and our appreciation for the IWK became a reality.

That day came for us shortly after Ben’s fourth birthday.  Our healthy active boy came down with a cold.  It was just a cold, not so bad as to require medical attention but enough of a cold to keep him home from daycare.  Then, little purple dots appeared all over his body and this Mommy went into panic mode. We went to see his family doctor immediately.  Those purple dots were petechiaean indication of low platelets which a blood test confirmed. We were admitted to the Prince Country Hospital in Summerside, PEI.

It was here that Ben was given his first round of IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin – a plasma protein replacement therapy that is given to immune deficient patients who have decreased antibody production capabilities) to help boost his platelet count.  During this transfusion he had a reaction and the transfusion had to be stopped.  This was the day our relationship with the IWK began through consultation with our local hospital.  When Ben’s numbers failed to rebound we were sent to the IWK for an appointment with hematology and for bone marrow testing.  Bone marrow results revealed that everything was working fine and because of his history of reacting to the treatment we again decided to give his body time to repair.

As time went on his platelet numbers failed to increase. He underwent another bone marrow test and consult with oncology. The results once again revealed that his bone marrow was working perfectly fine. Next we were sent to immunology.  Here his immunologist, hematologist and oncologist thoroughly tested Ben for every possible cause. All of these tests resulted in a diagnosis – Ben suffers from autoimmune conditions called thrombocytopenia and neutropenia.  Ben has had bone marrow testing, ultrasounds, MRIs, x-rays, blood work, and even dental checks at the IWK to ensure his health is being fully and continuously monitored.

While his team hasn’t been able to isolate the cause of his condition they have safely and confidently found a way to manage his platelet count which allows him to run and play!

So why should we give to the IWK?  The answer is simple; you don’t know when you are going to get a phone call saying that the specialists there want to see you the next morning.  You never know what lies ahead for you, your family or friends.  Having a facility that focuses on children and all their intricacies in our region is worth supporting.

Please consider supporting the upcoming IWK Radiothon on 95.1 FM CFCY presented by Credit Unions and the Co-operators Agents of PEI.

Sincerely, Heather Harris (Ben’s mom)

Learn more about Ben and other PEI IWK patients during the IWK Radiothon on 95.1 FM CFCY, presented by Credit Unions and The Co-operators Agents of PEI – broadcasting live October 30, 2014. Thank you to our generous sponors: 95.1 FM CFCY, Credit Unions, The Co-operators Agents of PEI, Charlottetown Mall, Rodd Hotels, and Global Convention Services.


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A day I’ll not soon forget.

Laura MacAulay is a Member Service Counsellor at CAA Atlantic in Charlottetown, PEI and mother to Alexander and Porter, IWK patients.

July 8th, 2013, is one day I’ll not soon forget. At 28 weeks pregnant with twin boys I found myself being airlifted to the IWK from my local hospital here on P.E.I. My blood pressure was high enough they thought they may have to deliver my premature babies that night. After arriving to labour and delivery at the IWK, the amazing nurses and doctors where able to keep me comfortable and calm with their knowledge and equipment. They were able to stabilize my vitals enough for me to be admitted to the maternity ward on strict bed rest.

Premature baby

Alexander at three days’s old

During my three weeks of bed rest, I was “alone” as my husband had to return to P.E.I. to work. The nurses and doctors couldn’t do enough for me, something as little as getting me a drink, an extra blanket, or even just a short conversation to pass time. Without the kindness of the staff at the IWK I don’t think my period of bed rest would have been as pleasant as it was. I never really felt “alone”.

Part of my stay consisted of ultrasounds every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to keep an eye on the babies’ development. The first ultrasound determined that baby A had restricted growth (no or reversed blood flow from the placenta through the umbilical cord) which caused him to be tiny and not grow as well as he should. The restricted growth was thought to be caused by my high blood pressure and unfortunately, there was not much that could be done but monitor the blood flow. The doctors were very informative and pointed out all the parts of the babies. They even showed me when the babies had hiccups; nothing big, but their professional bedside manner was comforting when I didn’t know what was going to happen or when. We took things day by day, and every day they were growing on the inside I felt better about what was to come.

Premature baby in incubator

Porter at three day’s old.

The day my life changed forever was the day my precious angels came into this world at 31 weeks. The day started out normal. I went for my usual ultrasound but they discovered a reverse flow of blood going back through baby A’s cord so, then and there, the doctor decided it was time to meet these little boys. Baby A, my little Alexander, was born first, weighing 2lbs 4oz, and two minutes later his brother, Porter, was born, weighing 3lbs 3oz. Unfortunately my husband did not make it over to the IWK in time to witness the boys being born, but I never felt alone as the nurses were always there to update me on what was happening and even take some pictures of the teeny tiny babies.

Even with the boys being born so small and so early, they were troopers, and had very few health problems. Premature babies often have lung issues, so when I got to see my little angels for the first time I was not surprised to see them with a CPAP machine hooked up. The little mask covering their noses was forcing room air into their lungs to clean them out and get the lungs working strongly. Within 24 hours of their birth, the boys had a drug called BLES (bovine lipid extract surfactant) put down into their lungs – which in my opinion is the miracle drug. Within 12-24 hours, the CPAP was gone and the boys just had nasal prongs to give them air until they were strong enough to breathe on their own. Eight days after Alex and Porter were born they were strong enough to be sent home to our local hospital.

The fantastic doctors and nurses at the IWK were fast acting, attentive, knowledgeable and caring. Without them and their state-of-the-art equipment, the outcome could have been much different and my healthy happy sons might not be with us today.

Twin boys

Alex & Porter, 7 months old.

The IWK will always hold a special place in my heart, especially now that I had a personal experience. I realize how important it is to have this facility in our region. Through my work, we are now raising money through a raffle for a trip for two. Proceeds will go to the IWK Foundation and the Janeway Foundation in Newfoundland. We also do weekly “dress down” days.

Make a gift to the IWK Foundation.
Learn more about fundraising for the IWK Foundation.

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Laps for Loonies

Adam Ramsay is an on-air personality for 95.1  FM CFCY, and will be participating along with Q93 personalities in the Laps for Loonies event on April 12 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. at Charlottetown Mall.

Adam Ramsay, 95.1 FM CFCY Radio personality

Adam Ramsay, 95.1 FM CFCY Radio personality

There are so many incredible charitable organizations and wonderful causes in our communities to support today that it’s easy to find disappointment within yourself for not being able to champion them all. But maybe the silver lining comes from the thought that perhaps the groups you do choose to support, and dedicate your time, energy and resources to, are chosen because they best reflect who you are and where you feel the closest connection to through the moments  you’ve experienced.

For me, the IWK Foundation (and the Children’s Hospital it represents) is one of those causes that hits home and inspires me to do what I can to support all those who touch the organization.  Many years ago, my sister was born at the IWK, more than three months premature.  And as I grow more into adulthood I’m seeing friends, co-workers, and more members of my community rely on the services and the special care of the IWK.  It’s hard not to feel close to an organization that has been such an integral part in the lives of the important people around us.

Through the Laps For Loonies fundraising event that we have developed in Charlottetown, I’m hoping to be a part of a day that will look to raise thousands for a cause that is so important to pursue. Through a simple act of walking ‘laps’ inside the largest shopping centre on the Island, we’re hoping to be a part of something much bigger – something that will help families who are not yet even aware they will need the assistance of the IWK, be taken care of when their time of need arrives.

And for me, that’s a cause more than worthy of championing.

Thank you Adam for you support! Don’t forget to tune in to 95.1 FM CFCY on April 25 & 26 as we broadcast live from Charlottetown Mall for the IWK Radiothon – Proudly presented by Investor’s Group. 

Make a gift to the IWK Foundation. 


Colours for Cancer

Natasha McCarthy, from Mount Albion, Prince Edward Island, is the organizer of Colours for Cancer – fundraising initiative  in Montague, PEI, to raise money for pediatric cancer.

I’ll never forget the date because it was the day before my birthday. The day I heard four-year-old Autumn Newell was diagnosed with Leukemia. Autumn and my four-year-old, Samantha, were in the same dance class together. I went to school with Autumn’s Mom, Stacey, but grew closer to her the previous year through our children’s association. I remember reading her Facebook post that day.

“Worst day of our lives, please pray for our little Autumn”.

Children's Artwork available for auction.

Children’s Artwork available for auction.

I didn’t know what that meant at first but being from a small community word spread quickly that Autumn was at the IWK and was a couple days later diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and about to start the battle of her life. As a mother of two girls myself, as did many I’m sure, tears streamed down my face. I prayed for them. I sobbed uncontrollably alone in silence for the heartache, fear and helplessness her parents Stacey & Donnie must have been feeling. I could not help but think how in heaven’s name do you explain that to your child? Where would you even begin?

Since that helpless day I have watched a miracle be born. I have watched through Facebook a four-year-old little girl turn into a warrior of strength, courage, determination and positivity. A video was posted three days later of her at the IWK saying “Kick Cancer in the Butt” and that slogan has now been adopted by a community of people. We wear bracelets with her name and slogan on them in support of her fight. In every photo whether it be in a hospital bed or at home she carries a huge smile on her face. She shows bravery far beyond what any four-year-old should ever have to possess. I have told her mother Stacey on numerous occasions that she is destined to do great things WHEN she wins this fight. This battle was meant for her, because she is so strong and will show others the way!

IMGP3480I knew I wanted to do something big to help Autumn’s journey to recovery and help with such a financial burden. So I decided I would do something huge! I would shave my head in an effort to raise money, but I would tell no one and wait for a while. Help often pours out quickly at the beginning of diagnosis but I knew this family at a 2.5 year battle ahead of them and money would run out. So I waited, and it is now obvious to me there was a reason I chose to wait. Because five months later when I decided the time was right after watching how amazing she has been I knew I couldn’t only help Autumn, I needed to help other children battling cancer too. She has inspired me to be a better person – to help as many as I could and make this much bigger. So I have included the IWK’s Hematology & Oncology Department in my fundraising efforts as I know she needs them to win her fight as do & will other Children.

Colours For Cancer was an idea to involve my children in raising money and helping others. A small idea that got big very fast. On Saturday, March 9th I had 54 amazing children come to paint a canvas and donate it to be auctioned off. This Friday, March 15th from 5:30-7pm there is an Art Exhibit and Final Auction (online bidding takes place all week).

One of the many young artists.

One of the many young artists.

The children are so very excited about it and the bid’s are rolling in already with some paintings as high as $88 in just two days! Over 8,000 people have viewed the Auction Album on Facebook which is incredible. I hope to raise a substantial amount of money through this event as well as some others in the coming weeks to help the IWK. We are so very blessed to have this facility available to us in the Maritimes and it takes money to offer the services it has. I have always donated through the Telethon since having children myself but now it’s time to step it up and find bigger and better ways to donate more, because we just never know when we might need the facility ourselves.

I thank Autumn for being so amazing and inspiring me, she is a blessing and her fight will end triumphantly thanks to her courage and many others including the IWK!

For other details on fundraising efforts, please visit https://www.facebook.com/#!/FundraiserForAutumnQeiiIwk

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A decade of dedication.

Child Safety Link is an injury prevention program based at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, striving to help keep  newborns, babies, toddlers and children safe at home, on the road and at play; in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Minister of Health and Wellness David Wilson accepts a plaque from Sandra Newton, Manager of Child Safety Link.

This morning, the Child Safety Link program at the IWK celebrated a milestone. For the past 10 years, they have been working diligently to keep Maritime children and youth safe. Today, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, Dave Wilson, stopped by the IWK Health Centre to recognize and thank them for their service to the community.

Each year, 34 children and youth die in Atlantic Canada from unintentional injuries*.  Child Safety Link works hard to prevent these injuries by providing valuable information to families and caregivers across our region on such topics as child passenger safety, home and playground safety, poisoning prevention, pedestrian safety and helmet use. “We aren’t trying to get people to bubble-wrap their children, or prevent the everyday bumps and bruises,” said CSL’s Manager Sandra Newton. “We are trying to help prevent the major injuries that can completely alter the life of a child, and have lasting, devastating effects on their families and communities.”

Over the past decade, Child Safety Link has played a fundamental advocacy role in the development of numerous child safety initiatives, including the recent Nova Scotian Snow Helmet Act that makes is mandatory for people to wear ski and snowboard helmets while on the province’s ski hills. As of November 1, 2012, our province is now the first place in the world where this is a law!

Congratulations to Child Safety Link from the IWK Health Centre Foundation on a decade of keeping children and youth safe!

*Child & Youth Unintentional Injury in Atlantic Canada: 10 Years in Review (Safe Kids Canada)

Learn more about Child Safety Link, and methods to keep children of all ages safe.