A safety net. A helping hand. A place to turn when you need help.
Parents throughout the region are given peace of mind knowing that McMaster Children’s Hospital and Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre stand ready to help their kids during times of need. This is especially true of parents Christina and Brent from Hamilton, whose daughters Claire and Molly have received life-changing care at these sites over the years.
In 2009, baby Claire was only three-and-a-half months old when she required surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital.
“She had surgery for a cleft lip, and she received follow-up care from many different specialists,” explains Christina. “A dentist, an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor), a plastic surgeon and an orthodontist all collaborated on her care. We still visit the Hospital every two years and they will continue with follow-up care until she’s an adult.”
When Claire was 5, her blood-sugar levels started reaching dangerously high levels and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“The team McMaster Children’s Hospital taught us how to manage her blood sugar with nutrition and insulin,” says Christina. “For a couple of years, we had to do finger pokes to test her blood. Now Claire has an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor, which makes things a lot easier.”
Claire’s sister, Molly, also required surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital when she was very young. In 2011, when Molly was only two days old, she underwent surgery for a lesion on her back. She had been diagnosed with spina bifida when Christina was 20-weeks pregnant, and the surgery marked the beginning of her extensive care at Hamilton Health Sciences.
“Less than a week after she had surgery for the lesion, she experienced hydrocephalus,” recalls Christina. “Spinal fluid was building in her brain, so she needed another surgical procedure to relieve the pressure with a shunt.”
Molly’s spina bifida affected her motor function, so she began receiving care from physiotherapists and occupational therapists at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre to help her gain function and increase strength. Her therapy appointments continue to this day.
The Wheelchair and Seating Clinic at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre has been a big help to Molly as well, and the clinic recently helped her get a new wheelchair. Although Molly uses a wheelchair to get around most of the time, she is able to use a walker for short distances.
She also makes use of the Prosthetic and Orthotics Program, where she is fitted for her ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) to help support her legs when walking. Since she is growing so quickly, she visits the clinic every year to be fitted for new AFOs.
“The teams at McMaster Children’s Hospital and Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre take care of the girls both physically and emotionally,” says Christina. “It feels great having that kind of support when we need it most.”
Part of a community
Claire and Molly have made many friends amongst staff and fellow patients during their care over the years, and they are both proud members of the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre Cheer Squad. They are also excited about participating in this year’s MacKids Walk & Wheel as Patient Ambassadors.
“They’re amazing kids, and I want them to be able to do whatever they want in life – travel, see the world or play sports,” says Christina. “I’m grateful to the health care teams for helping them every step of the way.”
No matter where their journeys lead them, Claire and Molly will always have a community of caring at McMaster Children’s Hospital and Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre.