"From the doctors, surgeons, nurses to staff, there was just an army of people ready and willing to help from the moment we entered the hospital."
In the middle of the night on August 12, 2021, just one week after turning 14, Angelina was rushed to McMaster Children’s Hospital. She was immediately sent to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit due to a rare arteriovenous malformation (AVM) rupture – bleeding due to a tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” recalls Angelina’s mom, Sandra. “The odds were against her.”
The cause of brain AVMs isn’t clear; most people are born with them but they can form later in life. Due to the severity of Angelina’s condition, the hospital staff worked quickly to get her into emergency surgery for a craniotomy.
“From the doctors, surgeons, nurses to staff, there was just an army of people ready and willing to help from the moment we entered the hospital,” says Sandra. “It’s an overwhelming experience when your child is in that condition, but I knew we had the best care for her by the way they supported us and communicated her diagnosis and procedures in a way we could understand.”
With the overwhelming support of Angelina’s family, friends and community, the Angelina Strong T-shirt Fundraiser was created to raise money to help fund her recovery. The t-shirts represented what Angelina loved most: puppy paws, rowing and the colour teal.
The fundraiser raised a total of $6,160. It was created to support the purchase of medical equipment Angelina may have needed during her recovery. Happily for Angelina, she did not end up needing the equipment. Knowing what McMaster Children’s Hospital did for her and her family, Angelina decided to pay it forward and donate the money back to the hospital.
“I don’t remember much from the time I entered the hospital, but I do remember the doctors, nurses and staff were always amazing to me,” says Angelina. “They went through everything with me; I was never alone – they are like a family to me now.”
Now, two years into her recovery, Angelina is thriving and doing what she loves most, including being back on the water with her rowing club.
“After this experience, I try to live every day like it’s my last. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but I’ve lived a day I thought may be my last. But, luckily, I had a compassionate team at McMaster Children’s Hospital who turned that around for me.”