Chloé has always been an enthusiastic supporter of children’s causes. At only 8 years old, she was already getting her friends to raise money for Sainte-Justine. But on August 16, 2018, everything changed. She was rushed to the Sainte-Justine emergency room following a serious car accident.
It was the middle of summer vacation. A beautiful day. Chloé and her family were on their way to the mountains for a hike. That’s when time came to a standstill. A car came crashing into theirs, on the passenger side. In only a few seconds, Chloé’s life changed immeasurably. She suffered a major head injury. She lost consciousness and then fell into a coma.
Chloé was taken to the hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. But her critical condition required specialized care and the kind of equipment they didn’t have. So they transferred her to the Sainte-Justine ICU that same day. The doctors at Sainte-Justine couldn’t rule anything out at that point. Chloé’s brain had endured so much damage that they feared she would be left in a permanent vegetative state.
The first 24 hours I spent by Chloé’s bedside, I had a deep fear in the pit of my stomach that words simply cannot express. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that my daughter might have a permanent brain injury. That she might never be like she was before. And, yet, that was a distinct possibility… That’s the kind of news no parent is ever prepared to hear.
When her family got the diagnosis, Dr. Weil, Chloé’s neurosurgeon, was sitting next to Claudia. He couldn’t tell her what the future held, but he did say that Chloé was in the best possible place, and in the best possible hands, to treat her injury. Claudia and her family were greatly moved by the dedication and sensitivity the teams showed throughout their ordeal.
Chloé’s eyes were closed. She was unconscious. But the doctors and caregivers talked directly to her every time they came into see her. They called her by her name and quietly explained what they were doing. Could she hear us? It’s hard to tell. But at Sainte-Justine, they always put the patient first. As a parent, this inclusive approach gives you the strength you need to keep fighting. You can really feel there’s a whole team behind you.
Chloé came to a week later. Her first battle was won. But the war had just started. There were multiple complications to contend with. The left side of her body was paralyzed, and she couldn’t talk, eat or walk. The road ahead of her would be long and hard. But Chloé wasn’t alone: her two parents, family and friends were there, with all their love and their encouragement. Slowly but surely: that was the motto they clung to in the months that would follow.
Chloé was at Sainte-Justine for close to two months before being transferred to the Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre, where she would remain for another six. A wide range of equipment played a huge role in her recovery: the X-ray machine, vital signs monitors, the Licox monitor, the RIK mattress and many different rehab devices – all of which were acquired through the generosity of donors to the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.
Today, after having excess fluid drained from her brain, undergoing months of physio, occupational and speech therapy, Chloé has regained all of her faculties. She is herself again and has resumed her regular activities. Her family is still in a state of disbelief.
Hers was a very long journey back. Seeing her living her life now like nothing ever happened seems unreal. Chloé has this incredible inner strength and I never underestimated that. But she would not have been able to come this far without the teams of professionals at Sainte-Justine and the donors who supported her.
Dr. Alexander Weil
This past summer, Chloé went for her first hike since her accident with her parrain d’amour, as she affectionately calls him. Only this mountain was nothing compared to the one she forced to climb months earlier. When she reached the top, she beamed with pride, knowing that her perseverance and positive attitude had paid off.
She still has no recollection of that terrible day in August 2018. But Sainte-Justine and the Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre will be etched in her memory – and her heart – forever. As it will be for her entire family, who are eternally grateful for the life that has been given back to them.
On behalf of all the children out there like Chloé who will benefit from the state-of-the-art care and human touch at Sainte-Justine in their struggle to survive and thrive, thank you for making the impossible possible.