Kylie, NYGH Patient
Kylie and Family, Grateful Patient Family

A young life saved by urgent care

February 23, 2021 is a day I will never forget. It began with my healthy and spirited four-year-old daughter Kylie heading to kindergarten and turned into the longest night of our lives. It’s the day when rapid response and extraordinary care from the team at North York General Hospital (NYGH) saved my daughter’s life.

Just another day at school

Kylie is a friendly and active little girl. She loves to talk, play with friends or get engrossed with her art projects. That winter day in February, nothing seemed amiss as Kylie headed off to school.

The trouble began when I picked her up at 3:15 p.m. My cheerful child was soon in tears, complaining that her head hurt. She hadn’t fallen or hit her head.

A terrifying ride

On the ride home, Kylie’s tears turned to screams and my concern began to grow. Once we arrived home, she started vomiting repeatedly and then suddenly fell asleep. When I couldn’t wake her up, I knew something was terribly wrong. I was terrified.

I scrambled to dial 911 and the ambulance and police showed up soon after. They escorted the ambulance to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency at NYGH, blocking every intersection en route. Kylie’s condition was dire, and it was vital that we reach the hospital as quickly as possible.

Diagnosing the ailment

When we arrived, Kylie was unconscious. Emergency physician Dr. Amna Karabegovic immediately put her on an intravenous and attached a cardiac monitor. She explained that Kylie was breathing but that her heart rate was low, and she called in Dr. Ronik Kanani, Chief of Paediatrics.

The doctors ordered blood work and an urgent CT scan. The results were startling — the scan revealed that Kylie had a brain bleed. The pressure in her brain from the bleed caused her to lose consciousness.

The critical first few hours

As a parent whose child had been a picture of good health a few hours ago, I couldn’t believe this was happening. Was my little girl going to survive? It was all too much for me and I started to panic. A nurse saw my distress and came over to hold my hand and calm me down. It gave me comfort to know that I was surrounded by a team with such kindness.

The doctors explained that Kylie would need emergency brain surgery to stop the bleeding. It was a specialized surgery that could only be performed at SickKids Hospital and we were relieved to learn of the incredible partnership between the two hospitals. NYGH coordinated everything seamlessly to arrange for Kylie to be transferred there.

In the meantime, there was a risk that Kylie could stop breathing or even go into cardiac arrest because of the brain bleed. The doctors at NYGH inserted a tube into Kylie’s throat and put her on a ventilator so she could breathe. She also got medication to control the pressure in her brain. I knew the Emergency Department (ED) staff at NYGH were doing everything possible to help Kylie, and that gave me some solace at a distressing time.

The care that NYGH provided in those first few hours was crucial in ensuring Kylie was not left with any cognitive or movement impairment.

Nursing Kylie back to health

We later learned that the brain bleed was caused by a rare condition called Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in her brain. Following the hospital transfer that NYGH facilitated, and a successful surgery, Kylie spent two months in rehab to help her regain skills such as speech and walking.

Although we will have to monitor her in the future, I am thrilled to say that she is now back to her former cheerful self.

Supporting Emergency Care

My family will always be grateful to NYGH for being there during this traumatic emergency and saving my daughter’s life. Every day, there are people of all ages who show up at the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency needing care, and that number is growing.

NYGH is expanding their ED to create more space and help more people, but to do so they need your help. Your contribution, big or small, can go a long way for people in the communities that the hospital serves. I can tell you from my family’s experience that your support will make a world of difference for many others like my Kylie.

Nicole, a grateful mother