Letting Kids be Kids
Ten-year-old Keanna is no stranger to Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre. Spending months as an inpatient and hundreds of days in clinic visits, the hospital has a sense of familiarity. Keanna is known to the staff, especially the Child Life Specialists who show her fun things, like making a volcano and watching it erupt!
At six years old, Keanna was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), which means scarring on her kidneys affected their function. Keanna underwent a kidney transplant, but it was unsuccessful and she required dialysis. Due to a rare complication Keanna could no longer receive home dialysis. To keep her alive she required hemo dialysis, which is only done at the hospital. For eight long months Keanna went to the hospital six days a week.
Six days a week was a lot for Keanna. “Each time we went for dialysis it took about three hours. Some might say, ‘Well it's only three hours,’ but when you are nine this is a long time to sit in a chair and be hooked up to a machine,” explains her mom Sara.
During dialysis, patient-centred programs helped keep Keanna positive and entertained. Her Child Life Specialist, Christine, would bring toys and craft supplies to distract her during difficult procedures and keep her occupied. Her Music Therapist, Karina, helped her express herself by making up stories and using instruments as sound effects. When Keanna was really sick, Karina wrote a song with her and they recorded it as a keepsake. Even Ollie the Clown would stop by to make her laugh.
When Keanna spent her 10th birthday receiving dialysis in the hospital, her Child Life team made sure she could still celebrate. They brought her a birthday box full of decorations, party hats, a special tiara and a voucher for cupcakes. Her Music Therapist Karina led the group in a singing of Happy Birthday to make the day extra special.
Today, Keanna has been put back on the home dialysis treatment, so she only has to visit the hospital every few weeks for check-ups and bloodwork. However, the future is unknown. Keanna’s case is so rare and unique that the doctors don’t exactly know what is in store for her. One day, she hopes to get another transplant, but until then, she trusts in her health care team at Children’s Hospital to help her live life to the fullest.
From May 1 – June 4, you can support kids like Keanna when you visit your local Costco warehouse. Look for the bright yellow Children’s Miracle Network balloons and make a donation. You will support the highest priority needs at Children’s Hospital, such as the incredible patient-centred programs that allowed Keanna to keep being a kid while receiving treatment. You can make a difference; just put your money where the miracles are!