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Please email Cora Carter and share your Stollery story.

Nursing baby Novah back to health

By Kandice Kew

Novah's JourneyWhen Gabriella took her 10-week-old daughter, Novah, to the Stollery Children’s Hospital emergency room due to vomiting, she never imagined that in a matter of days she would be facing the very real possibility of losing her.

It’s hard to believe that Novah, now a vibrant and thriving three-year-old, was ever that sick. Reflecting on Novah’s illness brings up strong emotions for those that love her. “We’re very grateful,” Gabriella reveals, her voice thick with emotion. “It hurts to think about it.”

Novah’s journey with the Stollery began in August 2014. She was vomiting, and Gabriella’s intuition told her that this was not just an upset tummy. Initial test results indicated she had an infection, however she did not seem to be responding to treatment. It became apparent that something much more significant was wrong, and a CT scan showed she had a blockage in her bowel. She had to undergo two emergency surgeries, with doctors ultimately removed 30 per cent of her bowel.

Novah was in the Stollery for just under three months. Initially, the extent of her illness was not clear. Without urgent care, she would have died. In addition to being vocal about her concerns over the seriousness of Novah’s condition, Gabriella credits having a specialized children’s health facility in Edmonton with saving her daughter’s life. She asserts, “Because the Stollery is only children, they know what they’re doing with children.”

While keeping kids alive and healthy is the goal of the Stollery, Gabriella knows it is about so much more. “They understand that without the family, it’s very hard to heal, so they take care of the emotional needs,” she says. Their family is eternally grateful to the dedication of the nurses at the Hospital for helping them through Novah’s illness. “They’re the ones that make it personal. They try to make sure that every moment of every day is better.” Gabriella adds, “They’re there for you.”

The nurses, services and support they received at the Stollery ensured their entire family could be there for one another, and made it feel more like home. “It doesn’t even feel like a hospital,” Gabriella smiles. She feels this is so important to families when they are coping with a sick child admitted for a long stay. “I had to live there. I didn’t leave,” says Gabriella. “That’s hard – being away from your family, being away from your children, being away from everything and then having a sick child on top of it all.”

Gabriella sincerely wishes nobody has to go through having a sick kid, but the reality is that it does happen all too often. She is so grateful the Stollery is here for any who may need it. “Take advantage of what the Stollery has to offer,” Gabriella encourages. “Because it’s not just medical, it’s not just physical, it’s emotional, and that’s where they are stellar.”

Healing is a journey. Novah’s journey is not quite over yet, as she still has follow-up care, monitoring and procedures. However, she is now a happy and thriving toddler, and her family knows if they ever need anything, the Stollery will be there.

Kangaroo Care in the Stollery Children’s Hospital

By Isabel Cave

Kangaroo Care

The Canadian Pediatric Society defines Kangaroo Care as “…the practice of skin-to-skin contact between infant and parent.” Parents are able to hold their baby, dressed in a diaper, against their skin for one to three hours.

Only a few hospitals in the world are leading the way in implementing this therapy for post-surgical patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – and the Stollery Children’s Hospital is the only place in Canada.

Kangaroo Care provides many established benefits to babies before they’re discharged from the Hospital. Being held by a parent gives comfort to the infant and helps with their ability to process and cope with pain. Kangaroo Care is also important in regulating sleep patterns and establishing regular sleep cycles. It improves brain development and neurological function. And mothers report their own benefits from the therapy including feeling more involved and needed, being able to help with caring for their baby in the NICU environment, and becoming more confident in their abilities as a mother.

It’s the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s goal to pioneer the use of Kangaroo Care and to encourage its use in NICUs throughout the world. In the meantime, this is yet another program to celebrate and be grateful for at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

A new law in Alberta for ATV riders

By Isabel Cave


A new law enforcing the use of helmets for riders on off-highway vehicles came into effect on May 15, 2017. Off-highway vehicles include: all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, dirt bikes, quads and side-by-side ATV’s. The fines for someone found not wearing a helmet range from $93 to $155. 

Doctors and health-care providers at the Stollery Children’s Hospital have been calling for legislation to protect riders and govern the use of ATVs for years. While they welcome Bill 36, they also want to emphasize it’s not just head injuries they see.

Dr. Daniel Garros, one of the pediatric intensivists at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, says in a letter to the Edmonton Journal, “Anything we can do to reduce preventable injuries is a step in the right direction. Head gear protects just the head, but up to 60% of those injured by ATV’s have also severe chest injuries … I look forward to the day we do not have to disconnect a child from life support in the ICU because he or she was crushed by a 750-pound machine.”

The message from Canadian physicians is that they would like to see no child under the age of 16 on an adult ATV, regardless of whether they’re wearing a helmet or not, and they strongly discourage the carrying of passengers on ATVs.

The Donor Difference At Work

By Isabel Cave

The Donor Difference  The Donor Difference

I had heard about The Donor Difference awareness campaign, along with many other members of both the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Stollery Women’s Network, but it took a visit to the Hospital as the parent of a patient to truly appreciate what that means. 

I am a proud Hockey Mom, with both my daughters playing, and along with many other hockey families, I had signed my girls up for hockey camps. My younger daughter was at her first day of camp in August and my older daughter, Rebecca, and I arrived to watch the last 15 minutes of the day – the end of their second ice time. 

As she skated down the ice, I heard my daughter, Katrina, shout, “I can’t breathe!” The next moment she was flat, face down on the ice, not moving. I was very concerned as she was so still and although we thought it could be her weak knees and fatigue, I told Rebecca that I was worried, as it looked more serious. Katrina managed to get up after about 45 seconds and finish the practice and they all came off the ice within five minutes. When we went to see her in the change room, we learned from her that she had lost consciousness.  

I called my husband, who is a physician at the Stollery and Director of the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (PCICU), and he told me to bring her in to the Hospital right away. Once there, they took an EKG to check on her heart function and there was evidence that something might be abnormal.  

I cannot stress how scared I was as the tests began. It was a journey into the unknown for us both as parents. She wore a halter monitor on her first day of junior high (we were not her favourite people!) and then had to go in for a stress test. This involves wearing various monitors whilst running on a treadmill and it allows physicians to see just what is happening during periods of increased activity.  

We were taken into a room with different monitors, a treadmill and a stationary bike. It was as Katrina was running that I really started to look around and notice something very special. All the different machines had stickers on them, saying they were provided thanks to donations and were part of The Donor Difference. I was amazed! I had no idea just how much equipment around the Hospital was the result of money donated to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. The Foundation had paid for all the machines in that lab. And it was inspiring to realize that without those gifts of money, the lab might not even be there. I also was very moved, as a parent, by the knowledge that there is a generous and caring community invested in our children and their health and well-being, standing alongside us.  

Katrina is doing well. She is being followed by a cardiologist and has had no other incidents. I would like to say a huge thank you to the whole cardiology team who took care of Katrina -- and her parents! Everyone was so caring and supportive during a very frightening experience.  

I would also like to offer a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful people who donate to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. If you have the chance to take a tour, do. You will get to see what The Donor Difference does and how it can change the lives of children every day.

Healthy Kids Playing for Stollery Kids
The Story of the Annual Stollery Family Day Classic

By Karen Schultz

SFDC logo   SFDC team  

I have often wondered how one person’s vision could grow into such a coveted annual tournament that greatly benefits the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, have you? Have you heard about how this tournament got started? Do you know how much money it has raised in the past six years? It is an incredible Stollery Story that is not about a specific family’s journey or specific child, but about thousands of minor hockey players playing their hearts out for our Stollery kids! 

Steve Serdachny, the tournament founder, and a few of his close friends were watching their children play hockey and talking about how lucky they were to have healthy kids. These reflections were turned into reality with the inaugural Stollery Family Day Hockey Tournament in February of 2011 with 70 teams raising money and playing a minimum of four games of 4-on-4 hockey. 

In 2011, the tournament raised more than $189,000. Edmonton Minor Hockey Association received a gift of $35,000 with the funds being directed toward minor hockey development. The remaining $144,000 went directly to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation to support their efforts in ensuring that kids get the best of the best in family-centred care – specialized equipment, education to train and attract the best medical minds, research to discover new treatments or cures, and specialized pediatric programs.

To date, as we are less than a month away from the 7th Annual Stollery Family Day Classic, the tournament has raised more than $1.9 million dollars….80-85% of the money raised goes to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and 10-15% goes to free skill development camps for minor hockey players who might otherwise not be able to attend hockey camp. The tournament now has 80 teams! The registration fee paid to enter the tournament covers the operation costs of the tournament such as all four sheets of ice for the long weekend, referees, swag bags for every participant, and “Player of the Game” toques!

The idea of kids raising money for kids really hits home with the athletes involved in this tournament as they fundraise in many ways as a team or as individuals for the weeks leading up to the tournament. Many of the these players have been, have a family member, or know of a friend that has been at the Stollery so the mission is real and they compete for the Stollery Cup in a way that rivals the other “S” Cup…honestly! Some teams have adopted a “Stollery Kid” as their “Honourary Captain.” It’s always nice to see these “stars” out watching and cheering on “their” teams. 

Each player is given a pledge sheet and is encouraged to go out (with a teammate or two) and get pledges from friends, family and neighbours. The hope is that each player try to raise a minimum of $100, so please be generous when that young hockey player comes knocking on your door in the upcoming weeks. There is a true “buy in” from the players as they realize the benefits of giving back, how fortunate they are to be healthy, and to be able to play the game that they love. The top-six fundraisers are gifted with an NHL signed jersey as an added incentive. Many players have raised more than $3,000 on their own!

This fast-paced ODR (outdoor rink) style of hockey with no stoppages, no contact, and changes on the fly is spectacular to watch!  The fair play, sportsmanship, equal ice time for all culminates with high drama finishes as penalty shots are awarded at the end of the game (instead of penalties) which make the game winners anyone’s guess right up until the end. The tournament committee, their families, corporate sponsors and volunteers have given countless hours of their time to make this a coveted tournament by minor hockey players everywhere. Tracy Martin, tournament director, reports that they have had teams from as far away as China, Whitehorse and other provinces show interest in participating in this tournament.

If you'd like to support the 7th Annual Stollery Family Day Classic, but you didn’t get a player canvassing at your door, there are many ways to do so! You can:

  • Donate online through the website
  • Join in the fun during the tournament and make a monetary donation in person.
  • Contrbute items of value (NHL jerseys, tickets, etc.) that you feel would compliment our silent auctionby contacting Tracy Martin at 780.242.2347
  • Give your time as a volunteer.

The Stollery Family Day Classic is about children, families, active living and good health. So, I hope to see you at the 7th Annual Stollery Family Day Classic at the Terwillegar Community Rec Centre sometime between Friday, February 17 at noon and Monday, February 20 to cheer on the 80 teams playing four to seven games of hockey each over the weekend! Bring the whole family as there are a plethora of activities throughout the complex for free family fun – a photo booth, a balloon artist, a face-painter, an incredible silent auction, 50-50 draws, a raffle, a shooting booth, and 630 CHED and 103.9 CISN Country will be broadcasting live. No promises, but in the past former and/or present Oilers players have been known to show up to encourage the players and to sign autographs. See you there!

A special thank you to tournament director, Tracy Martin, for your gift of time in assisting with research for this article…and to Steve, Dan, Jim, Kevin, Stacey and Patrick for all you have done and continue to do to make this family-centred, fun-filled, hockey tournament that has raised more than $1.9 million dollars to date a success … let’s keep that total growing!






The Power of People and Small Things Made Great

By Karen Schultz


Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”  I would like to share with you the story of one of our Stollery Women’s Network members, Nicola Scott, and how she rallied some of her colleagues at the Ledcor Group of Companies to raise more than $26,000 for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Nicola Scott is a difference maker.  She works for the Ledcor Group – a diversified construction company with projects all over North America.  This is a company that believes in giving back to the community.  You can learn about Ledcor’s extensive “giving back” program on the Ledcor Cares web page, which  highlights the company’s pride in its employees’ fundraising efforts.  Reading the Ledcor Cares stories and in talking with Nicola, I was amazed at the number of charities the Ledcor Group of Companies supports.

Nicola is very humble about her role in raising more than $26,000 for the Stollery Women’s Network to help us reach our goal of building the first dedicated pediatric operating theatre at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.  She begins our conversation by saying she has been very fortunate to have two healthy children, ages 14 and 18, who have never needed the Stollery, although many years ago her eldest needed the Calgary Children’s Hospital.  She sees the need in our city and was “astounded,” as were many of her colleagues, that there isn’t a dedicated operating theatre at the Hospital. She said it was quite easy to raise the money as the Foundation is one of the many charities the Ledcor Group of Companies has supported for many years, and that the “people were enthusiastic to support” fundraising efforts earmarked for this very specific and worthy cause. 

She goes on to explain that Ledcor has a formal charitable giving program that runs through the month of October.  For her part, she helped to bring employees together for what she called “fun-draising” activities.  She explained that when she was on her tour of the Stollery Children’s Hospital recently, she asked to have a handful of Stollery pins.  She then “sold” the pins to the employees of Ledcor for $20, which also came with the privilege of wearing jeans to work for three weeks.  Ledcor also had a silent auction that raised a lot of money, with a quarter of the proceeds earmarked for the Stollery Women’s Network initiative to fund an operating theatre.  Ledcor locations all over Alberta had BBQs, bake sales, and others just chose to donate anonymously.  All of these little “gifts” of money added up quickly, and will amount to making a big difference for Stollery kids and their families at the Hospital. The Ledcor Group of Companies demonstrates leadership from the top down in philanthropic causes by matching what employees donate.

We, the Stollery Women’s Network, would like to thank Nicola Scott, all the wonderful, giving employees at the Ledcor Group, and the Ledcor Group of Companies for raising and donating more than $26,000 towards reaching our goal of $500,000 over the next two years to fund a desperately needed new operating room at the Hospital.  Well done, Ledcor!  Thank you for all the “fun-draising” activities – for every donation no matter the size adds up – and we are that much closer to reaching our goal with your help.

It's all about the kids
Real people, not simply patients

By Karen Schultz

  When I wrote the Stollery story for last month’s e-newsletter about my daughter Bethany, I never imagined that I would end up there again in just a few short days. On Halloween night, I found myself in the Stollery again…this time with my 13-year-old son, Logan. Although his procedure and stay was very short and uncomplicated in relation to his sister's, the staff at the Stollery continued to amaze me. It was Halloween night when my son was brought into the Stollery emergency room. Some of the doctors and nurses were dressed up and Child Life had provided a big gift bag of treats for every patient, so children wouldn't feel so bad about missing out on their Halloween loot. Even though my son is only 13, he is 5'10" and looks much older than his age. He was still scared, never being a patient in a hospital before, never having an IV before, and never having surgery before. He was not treated like an adult, instead he was treated like a little boy in a big body. He had a nurse that understood that he needed cream to numb the site before doing the IV, a nurse who patiently and gently worked him through his fears, giving him permission to have the IV at his own pace instead of rushing just to get it done. 

After his surgery, he was in the same ward that his sister Bethany had been seven years ago. As I walked the hall, a flood of memories came back and a passing nurse smiled and hugged me, and then asked (yes, seven years later) how Bethany was doing? You see, at the Stollery nurses care for children, not simply another patient in a bed. She had tears in her eyes when I showed her pictures and told her of Bethany's progress. She said she was excited to tell some of the others. The nurse that cared for my son, also remembered Bethany and Logan from when he visited as a six year old boy. Truly amazing, caring, compassionate, special people!

  I am thankful for the Stollery Children’s Hospital every day

By Karen Schultz


I have lived in Edmonton all my adult life and though I gave regularly to the Stollery when a radiothon story would bring tears to my eyes, I never thought I would have the need to use such a facility or that I would ever be one of those moms telling a story, but here I am. 

As hard as it is to write, I want you to first read about my daughter's story, written as if the Stollery did NOT exist… 

Bethany was a gifted 12-year-old girl who was looking forward to her Grade 6 graduation at George H. Luck School, but one night she went to bed with a headache.  In the early hours on Sunday, May 18, 2008, a strange sound was heard coming from our basement.  We found our daughter in her bedroom in the midst of a massive seizure. We rushed her to the nearest hospital by ambulance and found out that Bethany had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that resulted in bleeding in the brain (stroke). She had only a 10 per cent chance of making it through that first night. All we could do is pray as she was airlifted to Calgary's Children's Hospital, as there is no pediatric neurosurgeon in Edmonton.  She died en route....

We know that with brain injuries every second counts! Although it hurts to write that "what if" scenario, it is what most likely would have been the result without the Stollery and its world-class staff.

Now read my daughter's miracle story, made possible by the world-class staff at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton...

Bethany was a gifted 12-year-old girl who was looking forward to her Grade 6 graduation at George H. Luck School, but one night she went to bed with a headache.  In the early hours on Sunday, May 18, 2008, a strange sound was heard coming from our basement. We found our daughter in her bedroom in the midst of a massive seizure. She was rushed by ambulance with sirens blaring to the Stollery Children's Hospital. We were rushed right into a room where doctors were waiting for her, already knowing she was to arrive. Later at the Stollery Children's Hospital, we found out that Bethany had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that resulted in bleeding in the brain (stroke). She had only a 10 per cent chance of making it through that first night. It was the world-class doctors at the Stollery that performed life-saving surgeries and the nurses that cared for her as if she was their own that helped our family cope through this tragic and sudden injury. They never gave up on her! She spent a month in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a month in Intensive Care on the ward, and then a month in a private room. The cost of just the first (of eleven) life-saving surgeries alone would have been impossible for us to afford had we lived in a place other than Canada!  The expertise and care for Bethany - with this rare condition and several rare complications - from all the staff at the Stollery was absolutely amazing. The care they took in looking after the whole family was second to none. It's a place I hope you will never have to find yourself in, but a place that everyone who has a child should never take for granted.

After three months in the Stollery fighting for her life, Bethany then spent a year in the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital fighting for her "quality of life." After 12 months in the Glenrose, she was discharged. Her doctors felt she had "plateaued" and would never learn anything new. Bethany was confined to a wheelchair and required 24-hour care for all her basic needs when we brought her home. Searching for ways to keep our daughter in therapy became “Mission Impossible” since most people would not have survived this and there are no pediatric stroke rehabilitation programs in Edmonton. We had no choice but to fight for our daughter’s quality of life. The neurosurgeon at the Stollery, Dr. Keith Aronyk, told us to never give up as he still believed in her, too. Dr. Aronyk had experiences with this rare type of injury before in some of the bigger hospitals in the United States.  He helped to give us the HOPE that kept us going!

Bethany started an intense daily therapy schedule. With dedication, hard work and countless hours of therapy, Bethany walked across the stage (with my assistance) at her Grade 12 graduation to a standing ovation and a tear-filled Jubilee Auditorium in 2014. In the past seven years, Bethany has re-learned to eat (without a G-tube), can sit at the table for supper with the family, laughs, sings, and is happy! She is learning to talk with more clarity, read (her eye sight continues to improve), and print, too!  She continues to make strides in her learning … all because the Stollery Children’s Hospital saved her life and then supported our family with HOPE for her future.