Zak “Rooster” VanderWerf and mom Lori, right, bring Christmas cards to the Langley Memorial Hospital team, including Pediatrics RN Nerrissa Dela Cruz, part of Zak’s care team last year. Zak also brought presents for children who may have to spend this Christmas in hospital, like he did last year.

Local boy shares gift of Christmas with Langley hospital patients

Make a difference to patient care in your community

This Christmas season looks a lot different for Langley’s Zak VanderWerf.

Like his friends and siblings, today the happy and healthy seven-year-old is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the holidays. This time last year, Zak was in the pediatric unit of Langley Memorial Hospital.

A treatment-resistant infection brought Zak to the hospital last November, and had him in and out of hospital as his care team endeavoured to get him well. The third visit took him over the holidays as the infection spread to his kidney and his fever spiked to 104°F, recalls mom Lori, who with dad Ben, were at the same time also caring for Zak’s siblings Kwynn, Grayce and Jakob.

“When you have to pass over the care of your child, it’s so frightening, but everybody at the hospital worked as a team to figure out the best course of treatment: let’s get Zak well and not stress him out,” Lori says.

“If we had had to take him to BC Children’s, and not been able to stay at Langley, we would not have been able to be with him every day.”

Christmas morning magic

“You can’t imagine how tough it is to hear your son ask if Santa will still be able to find him in his hospital bed,” Lori recalls.

But the hospital team understood.

“Zak woke up Christmas morning and they had written a holiday message on the white board in his room and Santa had left a few presents,” Lori says.

His family came next, bringing all their gifts and stockings to open together.

“He was so happy,” Lori says.

While Zak was just six at the time, the experience has stayed with him, and last week he returned to the hospital with gifts to share with others in the same situation.

“He remembers his time at the hospital and the people who cared for him, and he wanted to make sure that if there are any other kids who have to be in hospital this Christmas they would have a gift to open,” Lori says.

You can make a difference today

If, like Zak, you’d like to support patients at Langley Memorial Hospital and ensure they have the comforts and equipment they need for a healthy new year, the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation can help.

Desperately needed pieces of equipment include:

  • Infant ventilator ($3,300), to help provide breathing support for newborn infants who have a hard time breathing, or cannot breathe on their own.
  • Vital signs monitor ($5,100) to provide real-time information on the changes in a patient’s condition by monitoring vital signs such as pulse rate, blood pressure, and temperature.

“I would like to encourage other people to donate, because having this hospital here just means so much to our community,” Lori says.

To support your hospital, visit online at lmhfoundation.com, by phone at 604-533-6422 or come by the foundation office, in the hospital lobby.

 

Zak VanderWerf enjoys a Christmas morning visit from his family last year while in hospital undergoing treatment for a serious infection.

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