Zakariah (Rooster) VanderWerf was a very sick little boy in late 2017 and early 2018 but is recovered and back home with his family. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley family so grateful for care Zakariah received

Lori kissed her six-year-old son goodnight in a hospital bed, reassuring him he’d be better soon.

It can be tough to get kids to part with their toys but the kids in the VanderWerf family were only too happy to slap a price on some and sell them at a garage sale last Saturday.

That morning the South Aldergrove family, with support from friends, hosted a fundraising garage sale to benefit Langley Memorial Hospital.

On Saturday evening, their health care struggle was spotlighted at the Denim & Diamonds gala for the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.

The youngest member of the VanderWerf clan, Zakariah, got a tummy ache last November. Not uncommon for kids.

But it started to really hurt, so the family went to Langley Memorial Hospital.

He had a urinary tract infection (UTI), and was given oral and IV antibiotics.

Back home and three days later, he woke up crying. The UTI would not let go its hold.

“It’s 10 days of IV antibiotics. and my heart just stopped,” said his mom, Lori.

The medicines were hard on the blood vessels near his injection sites so it turned into a 12-day stay with seven or eight IV site changes – a hard thing for an adult to understand, let alone an active child.

“As a mom, you just want to make them better, and you can’t,” Lori said.

And that’s the hardest part for a parent.

This is the first significant health crisis for any member of the family.

While everyone was there to support dad, Ben VanderWerf, for his gallbladder surgery early last year, it’s very different when it’s a child at the centre of the storm.

That’s why Lori and Ben are so grateful to the people at Langley Memorial Hospital who were able to help their youngest, known by the lifelong nickname of Rooster.

“I had to give over all of my trust to the staff,” Lori said.

That included helping the family navigate a system that is strange to most people until they are in the midst of a crisis.

Rooster and his IV pole were frequently seen motoring up and down the halls of Langley Memorial’s pediatric department.

“He befriended every single staff member here,” said Shelley Krautsieder, patient care coordinator in pediatrics at the local hospital.

But when a child requires a long hospital stay, it impacts the rest of the family. There were also 17-year-old Kwynn, 15-year-old Jakob, and 13-year-old Grayce in the mix.

Lori and Ben were torn because they have a son with autism and other sensory issues who was not doing well with Rooster and mom and dad away so much.

“I kind of felt like I had to choose,” Lori commented.

The hospital helped find a solution.

Doctors tried to find Rooster a special IV.

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This kind of IV meant he could live at home but still receive the medicine needed to fight the infection and would not have the IV site failures that were so unpleasant. When they tried to go this route, they could not get him into the hospital that provides the procedure.

They found the next best option, a midline IV.

Rooster could be at home during the day, getting the treatment he needed through the midline IV. He slept at the hospital.

“We worked with the parents to book the times of the antibiotics” so she could still look after her family, Krautsieder.

And best of all, Rooster didn’t need to have all the different jabs as IV sites failed.

Dan noted that being able to have their child treated in his own community lifted many burdens from the family as well.

Since Rooster’s health scare, he’s back to being the ebullient boy who is now, thank you very much, six and a half, not six years of age.

His teen sister, Grayce, with help from her dad, built chicken nesting boxes and sold them to raise funds for the growing hospital.

The VanderWerf family has visited staff at Langley Memorial Hospital to thank them for their care of Rooster.

“This is a whole team of people that worked together to get him well,” mom noted.

This kind of IV meant he could live at home but still receive the medicine needed to fight the infection and he would not have the IV site failures that were so unpleasant.

When they tried to go this route, staff could not get him into the hospital that provides the procedure.

They found the next best option, a midline IV.

Rooster could be at home during the day, getting the treatment he needed through the midline IV. He slept at the hospital each night.

“We worked with the parents to book the times of the antibiotics” so Lori could still look after her family, Krautsieder said.

And best of all, Rooster didn’t need to have all the different jabs as IV sites failed.

Ben noted that being able to have their child treated in his own community lifted many burdens from the family as well.

Since Rooster’s health scare, he’s back to being the ebullient boy who is now, thank you very much, six and a half, not six years of age.

The family held a garage sale this past weekend to support the hospital. It raised more than $1,000.

Rooster’s teen sister, Grayce, with help from her dad, built chicken nesting boxes and sold them to raise funds for the growing hospital.

The VanderWerf family has also visited staff at Langley Memorial Hospital to thank them for their care of Rooster.

“This is a whole team of people that worked together to get him well,” mom noted.

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• Langley donors putting the ‘right tools’ in the hands of care providers

• Langley family so grateful for care Zakariah received

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• It’s about people making the health care journey together in Langley

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Zakariah (Rooster) VanderWerf was a very sick little boy in late 2017 and early 2018 but is recovered and back home with his family. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Zakariah (Rooster) VanderWerf was a very sick little boy in late 2017 and early 2018 but is recovered and back home with his family. (Special to the Langley Advance)

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