A Fulfilling Life for a Young Family, Thanks to NYGH’s Emergency Team
It’s been said that every moment is precious to those who know the value of time. For Ali and Sharon Ghafour, this truly speaks to how their lives have been shaped by a health crisis with their newborn twins Aurora and Adam.
Sharon had endured a complicated, high-risk pregnancy, so it was a huge relief when Aurora and Adam were delivered healthy and strong four years ago in mid-December. The joy shared by Ali and Sharon was immeasurable as their family instantly grew from three to five people, including older sister Ayla. The twins’ safe arrival was like an answer to a prayer and soon, they settled in at home.
An unexpected trip to the emergency that turned critical
Barely three weeks had passed after the birth, when the twins began coughing and sneezing. Big sister Ayla had unknowingly brought home a cold from school.
Little Aurora grew weak and lethargic, and her brother Adam became sick as well. Sensing something was seriously wrong with their children, Sharon and Ali rushed them to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency at North York General Hospital (NYGH).
It didn’t take Dr. Targonsky long to realize the extent of Aurora’s illness. A Code Pink — the code for a life-threatening situation involving a child — sounded overhead on the PA system. Both Ali and Sharon watched helplessly as things got worse for Aurora and she struggled to breathe. In a blur, there were at least a dozen doctors and nurses working on Aurora, trying in vain to intubate her. Suddenly, she stopped breathing. She flatlined and the team began to perform CPR.
While Aurora’s life hung in the balance, another Code Pink was called over the PA system. This time it was Adam, whose situation had also deteriorated. Like his sister, he struggled for every breath. In the blink of an eye, Ali and Sharon’s world stopped cold. They stood by helplessly as two NYGH emergency medical teams worked simultaneously to save the lives of their twins.
A coordinated effort that saved the twins’ lives
A mass of people in blue and white raced around with tubes, needles, paddles, and machinery rolled in and out. It seemed like chaos, but the Code Pink response was highly efficient and organized. Ann Shook, an emergency nurse, huddled with Ali and Sharon to explain what was being done to save their babies.
“We stood in the hallway, in-between the two rooms where our babies fought for their lives,” Ali said. “It was surreal. We could do nothing but wait and hope.”
After what felt like an eternity, Aurora’s heart monitor began to beep — she had come back from the brink. Moments later, Adam was stabilized as well. Ali and Sharon wept with relief and gratitude. Their babies were going to be alright. The parents learned the twins had contracted an RSV infection — a common but sometimes life-threatening cold virus.
Although four years have passed since that terrifying day, Ali still gets choked up when he remembers what happened to his precious ‘Rory’ and Adam when they were only 3 weeks old. Their gratitude for the emergency medical team at NYGH is impossible to measure.
Savouring each moment as a family
“When I think about how close we came to losing our beautiful children,” Sharon says, “it’s almost too much. Now, we savour every moment, never taking any second for granted. Our time is so much sweeter now and we’re not going to waste a moment of it.”
Both Ali and Sharon believe that fateful day has inadvertently shaped the twins in odd but fascinating ways. Today, Rory is fierce, confident and loves to fix everyone’s ‘boo-boos’ with her special kisses. Adam is happy, playful, and passionate about dinosaurs and sharks.
This year, the twins start kindergarten, and between school, swimming classes and family gatherings, the children are kept active and busy. It’s no understatement to say that every day is an adventure, and a gift.
“Things could have ended differently three years ago, but North York General’s Emergency Department was there for us when we needed it most. The team’s fast actions gave us our family, and now we get to experience life’s special moments together. There are no words that can’t truly express our gratitude.”
There’s a special photo on the wall of the Ghafour family home that’s become a prized possession. It’s a gathering of all the doctors and nurses who saved the twins and cared for them afterwards. Whenever they see it, they’re reminded of the hospital and the health care team that never gave up on their children, and just how fortunate they are.
Ali and Sharon with their twins Aurora and Adam at 10 months old, surrounded by the medical team that saved the twins’ lives.