Creating a Hospital Full of Smiles

Every day, emergency nurses go into work. They deal with difficult situations, life-threatening health conditions and patients in critical care. Regardless of what they encounter, they are never prepared for when something happens to their own family.

In 2006, this became the reality for Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre paediatric emergency nurse Christa. Her toddler, Travis, became lethargic and experienced sudden gastrointestinal issues. After presenting in the Emergency Room at Children’s Hospital, his condition continued to worsen and he was transferred to the Paediatric Critical Care Unit. 

Suddenly, Travis’s kidneys were shutting down and blood clots began to form throughout his tiny body. Doctors determined his serious situation was Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, caused by a strain of E. coli. 

The blood clots caused a lot of damage through blockages in the body. It affected his heart, kidneys, bowels and eyes. As a nurse, Christa had a hard time letting go of her professional instincts and focusing on being a mom. As you can imagine, “it is easier to be the nurse.”

Sadly, after five unsuccessful eye surgeries, the clots caused Travis to lose his eye sight. Additional surgery was needed to remove 75 per cent of his large bowels. Dialysis kept Travis alive when his kidneys stopped working, until they returned at 50 per cent of their function. Thankfully, his heart fully recovered.

Travis, now 12 years old, may not remember those critical days he spent at Children’s Hospital, but his mom remembers how the Child Life Program helped him through difficult moments. She continues to see its powerful impact through her work in paediatric emergency.

"The Child Life Program had an incredible impact on our pre-operative experiences. Travis was only two years old and had multiple surgeries over a six month period. The Child Life Specialists were able to distract him through play so he could enter the operating room in a relaxed and comfortable manner,” Christa shares. “Every day at work, I see the impact of the program in the Emergency Department. Child Life Specialists are able to provide support, teaching and distraction, which is imperative for children in situations that are typically unexpected, highly emotional and potentially painful.  I have said it many times - I couldn't do the job I do without the Child Life Program!"

You can support the Child Life Program at Children’s Hospital for kids like Travis at Tim Hortons. From September 11 – 17 2017, Tim Hortons guests who purchase a freshly baked chocolate chunk Smile Cookie for $1 plus tax will have the full dollar donated by the Tim Hortons*. Funds raised will support this essential program to bring smiles to kids’ faces. When you get a smile, you give a smile!

*Participating locations include London, Dorchester, Ingersoll, Komoka, Norwich, Thamesford and Tillsonburg.