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At just 6 years old, Darius is one in a million and has lived his life beating the odds.
Born with Down syndrome and two holes in his heart, Darius has needed specialized care from the day he was born. And when he came down with pneumonia at just two-months-old, Children’s was there to ensure he had everything he needed to stay strong.
Darius was immediately airlifted from Thunder Bay to Children’s Hospital for treatment.
Despite complications like punctured bowels and fighting off more infections – Children’s had the specialty surgeons and paediatric equipment that made his life-saving surgery possible.
After five hours of surgery and two months in the Paediatric Critical Care Unit, Darius made it through.
For those months of constant care, Child Life Specialists brought in toys, games and laughter, even whipping up fun activities for family bonding time with his big brother. They have been there for every life-saving treatment and surgery.
But Darius’ journey didn’t stop there.
When benign tumors were found in Darius’ brain, as well as his eyes and spine, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as progressive, terminal neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) which causes tumors to grow on his nerves.
Darius is likely the only child in the world with Down syndrome and NF2. Luckily, Children’s was still the perfect place for Darius, with its very own NF2 clinic.
Through each obstacle Darius has faced, Children’s Hospital has become a second home for the Fitzgerald family in London. Mom, Danielle, fondly recalls members of their team sitting and chatting with them for hours, even after a full day of work. Child Life specialists have made a profound impact by guiding her through the hospital and even bringing her to the Operating Room or Daruis’ MRI testing to give her the chance to alleviate not just Darius’ anxieties, but her own.
From the kindness of Family Advisors in the Paediatric Family Resource Centre to the reassurance of the Child Life specialists, the whole family can experience comfort and safety even in the face of the unknown.
Because of the incredible team at Children’s Hospital, Darius’ family has a community to lean on as he receives ongoing care. Until a cure for NF2 is identified, Darius is paving the way for future paediatric NF2 patients with strength and positivity, and Children’s will be there each step of the way.