Joey and his puppy, Penny

Life on the Line

At the start of the global pandemic, Joey faced a serious medical emergency. His mom, Stephanie, shares how you and other donors helped him survive and get better.

I believe angels woke me up the night my son almost died, so that I would have the chance to get him to life-saving care.

Joey had been sick to his stomach for a few days. We had gone to our local hospital for tests and they diagnosed him with a tummy bug.

When I woke up late that night though, I instinctively went to check on Joey. My heart dropped as he came into view. My creative, kind and intelligent boy was lying unconscious on his bedroom floor.

I called the paramedics and they rushed him to Stratford General Hospital, intubated and crashing.

They successfully stabilized him. But Joey needed the specialized paediatric critical care that only Children’s Hospital in London can offer our region, and so they transferred him there.

Over the next 41 days, your generosity helped ensure that his medical team had the best equipment, resources and training to save our son.


When Joey became seriously ill, it was March 2020 – the start of the global pandemic, and everyone was rushing out to buy toilet paper.

COVID-19 was top of mind as my husband, Jim, and I worked with Children’s Hospital’s Infectious Disease Team to rule out possible causes.

However, after countless tests and questions, medical professionals were confident that the issue was with his bowels or appendix.

We prayed as they took Joey into surgery. It was hard to see him rolled away unconscious, on breathing support and hooked up to many, many machines.

As hard as it was though, we knew those machines were helping keep him alive – and it’s because of you that they were available.


Caring donors, like you, helped purchase 100 per cent of the medical equipment at Children’s Hospital last year.

You also ensured that our medical professionals could stay on top of the ever-changing pandemic protocols through state-of-the-art simulation training, protecting Joey, our family and other young patients.

During Joey’s surgery, they discovered that his appendix had burst. The surgeon drained 1.5L of fluid from his abdomen and removed the damaged organ.

Left undiagnosed and untreated for about four days before he was sent to Children’s Hospital, the burst appendix had caused significant infection and inflammation in Joey’s body – stressing his other organs.

Surgery was just his first step to getting better. He wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Jim and I barely left Joey’s side in the Paediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU). At times, we worried we wouldn’t get to bring our rambunctious teen home. Our house is so much noisier with Joey in it, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Joey is a true middle child – he swears he never gets enough attention. Perhaps it’s for this reason that he is one of the most determined and resilient people I know.

His tenacity helped him as he battled pockets of infection and fevers for more than a month on the Inpatient Unit. He endured kidney dialysis, stress testing on his heart and other serious procedures.

Through it all, we couldn’t have asked for a better medical team. They showed incredible expertise and compassion. In our eyes, they are heroes and so are you. Your generosity keeps Children’s Hospital at its strongest to save lives.

Day-by-day Joey improved. After 41 days in hospital, we could finally take him home to Mitchell, Ontario.


Today, Joey is thriving. He is keeping busy playing with his siblings and his new puppy, Penny. Joey had been asking for a dog for years and in the PCCU we promised him that we would get him one when he made it home. Penny is short for Appendix.

I feel blessed to have my house noisy once again, filled with the voices of our three children and the barks of our new puppy.

Your support of Children’s Health Foundation means everything to families, like mine. Thank you for standing by our kids.

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