Some parents celebrate their baby’s first steps or words. Julia Suppa focused on other milestones. Like when her daughter no longer needed oxygen or her feeding tube. Isabelle, born 2½ months premature, spent her first nine weeks of life in hospital.
After falling ill with life-threatening kidney and liver problems, Julia had an emergency delivery. Soon, Isabelle was transferred to Mackenzie Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). “They didn’t treat her like she was breakable,” says Julia, a producer with Rogers TV. “They were gentle, but she was a real baby. It gave me comfort.”
The NICU staff said preemies are fighters. That’s true with Isabelle, now four, who Julia describes as “feisty since the day she was born.” That day, Julia missed the joy that most first-time parents experience: “There weren’t flowers and balloons.” Yet Julia appreciates how the NICU staff cared for Isabelle like she was their own. That enabled a different joyous day. “When we brought her home,” says Julia, “she was ours for good.”
“Julia appreciates how the NICU staff cared for Isabelle like she was their own. That enabled a different joyous day.”
John Alexander has chronic kidney disease, and is on peritoneal dialysis (PD) nightly at home. Yet he’s grateful. Before his diagnosis, he ate junk food often and was overweight. Now he looks, feels and eats healthy.
“Life doesn’t stop after you have chronic kidney disease. It’s a transition, in my case for the better,” says John, who trains companies in Internet search engine optimization.
Mackenzie Health is home to the York Region Chronic Kidney Disease Program. PD is one type of home dialysis. It uses a cycler to clean blood in the body rather than in a machine. The inside of the abdomen (peritoneal cavity) is filled with a special dialysis fluid, through a surgically-inserted catheter.
John had great training from the PD nurses. Everything happens when he’s asleep, and he doesn’t feel a thing. He shares his experiences at hospital information nights with potential home dialysis patients. John knows they’re anxious, and has a simple message: “It has given me a new lease on life.”
“Life doesn’t stop after you have chronic kidney disease. It’s a transition, in my case for the better.”
Stroke patients at Mackenzie Health have a cheerleader in Hasnain (Hass) Mawji. He’s not a doctor or physiotherapist, but a volunteer on the stroke unit. Not long ago, he was a patient himself. Hass loves to help motivate recoveries. “I say if I could do it, you can too.”
Hass was 44 when he had a hemorrhagic stroke in February 2015. Before that, he was on blood pressure medication, but stopped taking it because he felt okay. “It’s a regret,” he says. He spent six weeks at Mackenzie Health, a nationally Accredited District Stroke Centre, from the ICU to acute care to rehab. At first, his leg was paralyzed. Then one amazing day he could move a toe, just slightly but it was a start. He’s now mobile, and uses a cane as a precaution.
During low days, the stroke team gave Hass the care and encouragement to improve. That’s why he was eager to volunteer. “I got a second chance. I’m more appreciative of life, and trying to help others.”
“During low days, the stroke team gave Hass the care and encouragement to improve. That’s why he was eager to volunteer.”
She has had many joints replaced, yet few people are as strongly connected as Pat Young. Pat has a hereditary condition called hemochromatosis, which causes the body to absorb and then store excessive iron in the organs. It can lead to many complications, in Pat’s case a very rare form of psoriatic arthritis that systematically destroyed her joints. She has had her hips, knees, ankles and one shoulder replaced. With all that, Pat remains positive. “It’s all for the good, because they were able to fix me.”
As a Mackenzie Health volunteer, she finds joy in assisting the hospital and its patients. “Just the desire to be of service – you get much more rewards out of the exchange than any work you put in.”
She began volunteering at Mackenzie Health shortly after retiring, and has been instrumental in the volunteer office. Pat is a Past-President of the Volunteer Association and continues to serve as chair of by-laws and on board committees. She loves the chance to make a difference. “You see and hear people’s gratitude when you’re able to help them.”
She has had her hips, knees, ankles and one shoulder replaced. With all that, Pat remains positive. “It’s all for the good, because they were able to fix me.”Share: