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Your support helped John meet his grandchildren

Last year, Kailie Doncaster said goodbye to her father, John, after he received critical care at Sault Area Hospital for over two years. Despite her grief, Kailie is grateful for the two years that outstanding local care gave her and her father. Your support made that care possible.

An older man in a hospital bed smiles at the camera. He is holding a gift wrapped in red paper.
John Doncaster woke up from his coma in time for Christmas in 2020

In September 2020, Kailie was 12 weeks pregnant, and excited to tell her father, John. Their plans to travel that month had been cancelled due to pandemic restrictions, so Kailie thought her news was sure to cheer up the whole family.

But Kailie didn’t get the chance to tell her dad in the way she’d planned. On the day of their cancelled flight, John walked in through the front door after work and collapsed.

“When he called me, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying,” recalls Kailie. “I drove home as quickly as I could to find him on the ground. I called an ambulance and it got to us within minutes.”

As soon as they entered the Emergency Department, doctors took John to the ICU. Kailie sat in the emergency waiting room, fearing the worst.

A baby is handed to an older gentleman in a wheelchair. The man is reaching to take the baby and kiss her on the forehead.
John met his granddaughter, Stella, on Fathers Day in June 2021

It was there that she got the devastating news: Her father had had a severe stroke in his brain stem. John was put into a medically induced coma. A ventilator breathed for him, tubes fed him through his stomach, and IV lines supplied him with water and medicine. He was in a coma for two months.

It was December 2020 when doctors woke John from his coma. They warned Kailie that they couldn’t be sure when, or if, her father would regain consciousness. “In the first few weeks, my dad shocked the doctors with his progress. He was cognitive, he understood what was happening,” Kailie shares. “It was a relief. My best friend had pulled through; the nightmare was over. I thought, ‘I’ll have my dad back home!’ But sadly, that was just the start.”

John’s stroke caused a disease called Wallenburg Syndrome. He lost mobility in the left side of his body, and couldn’t swallow on his own. He needed a tracheostomy, a small hole in his throat, to allow for suction of fluid from his lungs and, on his bad days, to provide oxygen.

John struggled to speak and couldn’t write because of the loss of his mobility. Kailie learned to read John’s lips, so they could continue to communicate. When he woke up, Kailie had a baby bump. “He was a bit surprised! He wondered how long it had been.”

John was at risk of choking, so he was deemed too unwell to be cared for at home or go into a long term care home. He needed specialist care that only Sault Area Hospital could provide.

The two years that followed were not easy for Kailie and John. John battled aspiration pneumonia again and again. But the Sault Area Hospital care team were amazing throughout.

“The staff of 2C went above and beyond. Some brought him Christmas gifts or visited on their breaks to sit and talk with him,” Kailie shares.

Remember the signs of a stroke using FAST: Face, is it drooping? Arms, can you raise both? Speech, is it slurred or jumbled? Time, to call 9-1-1 right away. Act FAST because the quicker you act, the more of the person you save. Poster from Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada.
If you see signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

When Kailie’s daughter, Stella, was born in March 2021, visitor restrictions were in place. John’s care team printed pictures for him and helped him make video calls. He met his granddaughter in person a few months later.

John met his second grandchild, Archie, the day after he was born on August 20, 2022. Three months later, John fought aspiration pneumonia for the final time and went into palliative care at the Hospital.

“My dad should have died during his stroke, but thanks to the care at Sault Area Hospital I got two more years with him,” Kailie shares.

“He got two more years to watch his grandchildren come into the world. Though I’m grieving, I will forever be grateful for the two years SAH gave us.”
Your gifts help keep families together for longer. Give Today.

Your gifts fund equipment that extends the lives of critically ill patients.

Your support funds essential medical equipment such as the bed that John lived in for two years, the ventilators that helped John breathe through his coma, and the IV equipment that provided him with medication. By funding this crucial equipment, your gifts help keep families like Kailie’s together for longer. Thank you for your ongoing commitment.


This story is featured in our Impact Newsletter. Read the latest issue and see our archive.




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