Zoë was only 9 months old when she had her first experience at CHEO. She had a high fever that was not dissipating and was becoming very lethargic. The team at CHEO recognized she was becoming more gravely ill and took the necessary action to discover she had a blood infection. After several more blood infections in her early years, she was ultimately diagnosed with Primary Immune Deficiency at the age of 3 and has been taking daily penicillin doses ever since.
During the next few years we also noticed that Zoë was not growing as quickly as other kids her age. Eventually we were referred to the endocrinology department at CHEO and Dr. Sarah Lawrence recognized the signs and after further testing, Zoë was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome (“TS”) at the age of 8. There was no correlation between the immune deficiency and TS diagnosis. Luckily the immune deficiency is manageable with medication, but the TS required daily injections and numerous appointments with CHEO specialists. Dr. Sarah Lawrence is one of the best doctors we have ever met as she is very knowledgeable, warm and caring, and is excellent with children.
Brenda Fraser was our endocrinology nurse for 10 years and she has been an exemplary nurse - always available to answer any of our questions at any time of the day, teaching us how to manage daily injections at home, while also being the most kind and caring nurse at all times. Brenda is the consummate professional and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of Turner Syndrome that she has become an ambassador for girls with TS. Everyone in the TS community thinks of Brenda as “The TS Nurse” as she often organizes and speaks at TS events. What sets Brenda apart is her commitment beyond her day-to-day duties to help organize events both within and outside the hospital. She has also engaged her family in assisting with TS awareness, fundraising and learning events on weeknights and weekends beyond her working hours. She has done so not for any personal reward, but because she cares deeply for TS girls and their families, and sees them as “people” and not just patients.
Zoë is now turning 18 and will be transitioning from CHEO to the Ottawa Hospital. We cannot say enough about CHEO and the wonderful care Zoë always received not only from Dr. Lawrence and Brenda, but also from Dr. Janice Cohen and so many other wonderful staff in various departments Zoë has had to deal with.
While we will miss CHEO and our regular appointments, we are very thankful that Zoë was always in good hands. CHEO should be very proud of its world-class people and of its caring culture.