Sometimes the hardest journeys end up being the most rewarding. That’s certainly the case for two Saskatoon teens and their families who are now giving back to much younger heart patients in hospital.
Koralee Page, 13, and Kieran Lawford, 14, were both diagnosed with heart defects and underwent heart surgery before each was three months old.
Not only did they survive their surgeries, they have both thrived and from all accounts are living a pretty normal life.
“I’m in basketball and can still keep up with the other kids, I’m in volleyball as well,” said Koralee Page, who at some point may require another surgery.
Their families said they have one other thing in common: when they were going through these difficult times more than a decade ago – they said they never felt so alone.
“It’s hard, it was quite hard,” Koralee’s mother Danielle Page said.
“It was very scary and I was lucky, my sister is actually a pediatric nurse so she was able to give me a lot of advice.”
Today, the two sets of parents said that’s all changed. Saskatchewan families have now formed a community and the kids are involved in CHAMPS Healthy Heart Camp during the summertime.
There they make beautiful handmade blankets and write a letter for children currently receiving care in-hospital as they battle a heart condition of their very own.
“It’s meant to show that even if you have a heart disease that you can still do great things,” said Kieran, who has attended the camp for the last four years.
Both of the teens’ mothers said they hope the gift provides some reassurance to families and wish there was something like this when their children had been diagnosed.
“It gives new families that comfort knowing that someone with a heart condition made that for them – that they’re absolutely normal kids that they can do this kind of stuff,” Danielle Page added.
“It shows them that they have that support, they have something to lean back on if they have questions and they have people that they can ask.”
From one heart to another, it’s a way for these miracle babies to give back and support strangers when they need it the most.
Like the Dafoe family who waits at Royal University Hospital (RUH) to find out a date for little Kaiden’s second heart surgery. Kaiden, who is a little over two years old, has been in hospital more days than he’s been out.
“This is really special and sentimental,” Kaiden’s mother Morgan said.
“You know you see them and they’re older, they’re healthy, they’re doing things like this and just giving back to these little kids it’s quite a nice thought.”
Since its inception in the summer of 2016, 70 blankets have been made for families across the province as part of the Cardiology Blanket Project.Th
The heartwarming idea was started by Dr. Charissa Pockett, a pediatric cardiologist at RUH who wanted a way of tying families together.
“Families are grateful,” she said as her eyes filled with tears.
“It’s real struggles that our families go through and I think having those blankets is such a symbol of hope for them.”
For more information on the program or to make a donation in support of pediatric cardiology in Saskatchewan, visit the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.
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