Leroy's story: A remarkable testament to the power of your support

My son just celebrated his 3rd birthday, which is a feat considering The Children’s saved his life 4 times. And we owe it to you for helping us navigate this rocky journey.

Even before Leroy was born, he was diagnosed with a rare tumor on his spine. My obstetrician referred us to The Children’s where I met with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team and the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Sherif Emil. Two months ahead of schedule, I went into labour. The team was ready to greet Leroy and we felt confident: our three-day-old-son was in expert hands.

But, the surgery didn’t go as planned; the tumor was harder to remove than anticipated... 

For ten hours, we waited in Leroy’s NICU room. Time passes excruciatingly slowly amidst the hum of the medical equipment. We learned the surgery was successful, but because his intestine was about to rupture, they made a hole and we would need to care for the stoma. It would be difficult; still we felt relieved and thought the worst was behind us. 

However, everything would change after a series of unrelated events…

Just as we were about to be discharged, Leroy was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). We were floored. Luckily, Dr. Larry Lands, world-renowned in CF, was there to answer all our concerns. He told us that life-changing medication was being developed. That Leroy could live to be old. That preventive treatment would start right away.

You can’t imagine how reassuring it is to have knowledgeable people by your side while you take in such devastating news.

So, as we incorporated CF care to his stoma care, an MRI then showed that the bones of Leroy’s skull were fused together. Yet another hurdle. Yet another surgery. Yet another top-of-the- line specialist, neurosurgeon Jean-Pierre Farmer, to help us through this.

Think about it: what are the odds for one child to have all these conditions? And what are the odds that we’d be at the right place, at the right time with all the experts we need under one roof, right here in Montreal?

Let me tell you, the thought of my son’s skin having to be peeled back on his skull was unbearable. The funny thing is, in retrospect, it was the easiest; within 4 days, we were out of the Hospital. Super Leroy and The Children’s had done it again!

And then, just as our boy was reaching milestones, we came face to face with our biggest fear.

Leroy had been vomiting. He was starting to look lethargic so the CF team suggested we bring him to the Hospital. I’ll always remember, we were in the PICU, I was holding the basin under him as he was about to vomit. What came out was brown. It was fecal vomit. At that point, the staff knew this was an emergency situation and whisked us out of the room as it was flooding with medical staff.

I was desperately trying to see my boy through the cluster of arms and bodies, just thinking, “I need to get a last glimpse of him alive.”

My husband collapsed to the floor. Two people helped him back on his feet. We were both crying in despair. But we weren’t alone. A nurse talked us through the procedure we were witnessing, helpless. Dr. Emil and Dr. Lands, upon hearing the news, rushed to comfort us.

Leroy had survived a septic shock; we don’t know what triggered it. After the successful emergency intubation, we spent the next days waiting to see the impact on his brain. It was pure agony.

An MRI showed Leroy was left with a brain injury that would affect his motor skills. Imagine, my boy went from being able to stand, say words and hold his toys, to not being able to move at all and losing the ability to vocalize. My poor child was trapped inside his body.

You must be wondering, “how did she keep it together?” as have many parents and friends. Truth is, I cried every day for weeks on end, but because the team at The Children’s is so amazing and dedicated, because there was always someone checking in on me, it kept my morale going.

And that’s The Children’s for you; it’s excellent care all around. This is what you support through your donations.

You allow the staff to be ready for every scenario possible, to save children and be there for their families.

Today our boy is making great progress, he can crawl and sit, he’s babbling like crazy. He’s got the cutest laugh. Leroy gives us the greatest joy we’ve ever known. We would love for him to recover and enjoy his life to the fullest.

Thanks to your support to The Children’s, we’ve been able to focus on the positives.

And we’ll need you along the way as Leroy’s journey with The Children’s continues. Thank you for making a gift today.

Rachel, Leroy’s mom