SickKids: Peterborough boy’s life saved, family shares their story to inspire giving to hospital foundation

Click to play video: 'Peterborough family brings awareness to SickKids fundraiser with boy’s personal journey'
Peterborough family brings awareness to SickKids fundraiser with boy’s personal journey
The SickKids Foundation is in the midst of a massive fundraising effort, raising money to basically build a new hospital. Now, their 'Be a Light' campaign is bringing the focus to the Peterborough area. Caley Bedore has more with a local family who is sharing their story to help and inspire others. – Dec 9, 2021

Four-year-old Desmond Chaput wants to be a superhero when he grows up, one with super speed.

What he doesn’t know is he might already be one. His power? Helping other kids who, like him, have spent a lot of time at SickKids in Toronto.

His mom Heather recalls when Desmond was born.

“He was born in February 2017, and he was born with heart disease,” said Chaput. “The nurse noticed that he was in distress at [Peterborough Regional Health Centre] and they came in the room and said we are on the phone with SickKids. We need to go. There is something wrong with his heart.”
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She said Desmond had to be transported to Toronto.

“From there it just kind of spiralled. He was airlifted via ORNGE helicopter and there wasn’t room for either my husband or me, so I have this distinct memory of being on the DVP and his helicopter flying over the top of us. It was surreal.”

Desmond would have a procedure that day and then, at just eight weeks old, he would have his first of three open-heart surgeries.

“You think to yourself you see this happen to people all of the time, and you think ‘how do they do that? I couldn’t do that.’ And then it happens to you, and you just do it,” she said.

“You survive and put one foot in front of the other. And you have a hospital like SickKids, and you’re in the worst days of your life, and you just breathe a sigh of relief when you walk in. You just know that he is where he needs to be.”

Now, Chaput said, they’re sharing their story in hope of helping others who are going through something similar.

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“Because of everything that we have gone through you can start to feel like ‘why did this happen to us? Why did this happen to him?’ For me, it has always given purpose to our journey and our struggle and our trials to help someone else who might be in the same situation,” she said.

“And, just to let the community know that this hospital is so close and look at what they are doing. So, if you’re looking for somewhere to give this holiday season, this is a really meaningful way to give that significantly impacts the little ones in your community.”

Now, even Desmond said he looks forward to some of his hospital visits.

“We go to the hotel sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes we bring games and we get to play the games.”

And Desmond isn’t alone. About 100,000 kids are treated at The Hospital for Sick Children every year, about 1,400 are from the Peterborough area.

Heather Clark, the senior vice-president of mass, direct and digital marketing with the SickKids Foundation, said the organization is in the midst of the largest health care campaign in the country, six years and $1.5 billion dollars. Now, it’s in another push, called the ‘Be a Light’ campaign.

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“More than a next-generation, state-of-the-art hospital and patient support building, we are really building a brighter future for thousands of children,” said Clark.

“We do have the best doctors, the best team at SickKids, but we are working in a 70-year-old building,” she said. “So I get excited when we talk about things like cutting-edge technology, controlling infection in the best way possible and creating more happy, healing spaces.”

She added that for every monthly donor who joins the fight by Dec. 31, the donation will be tripled by a generous donor.

As for Desmond, he will have more surgeries as he gets older. While he still wants super speed his mom said she is thankful that for now they can slow down and enjoy the little moments, with a simple Christmas wish this holiday season.

“To stay happy and healthy and just visit the hospital for day trips,” said Chaput.

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