Throughout his life, and up until his sudden death, Albert was surrounded by love. Not only by his family, but also by his Rotary Flames House family. Albert was born with a structural abnormality of his brain that affected his development. By age 2, he was nonverbal, and unable to crawl or walk because of motor delays. In time, he learned to use alternative adaptive communication and used a wheelchair. Despite his challenges, he always had a beaming smile on his face, especially when at Rotary Flames House for respite care or outpatient programs. His parents could feel at ease leaving him in the hands of staff who were both loving and knowledgeable about his medical needs, which included a feeding tube when he was 6. Whether it was a planned visit, when Amie attended a work conference, or unplanned, like when Henry was admitted to hospital for a bad burn, the House was there for Albert. He loved Music Therapy, the multi-sensory room, swinging in the big swing, and splashing in the giant bath. His caregivers went above and beyond in learning how best to engage with him, including singing the same songs Amie would sing to him at mealtimes so he would feel more at ease, and more at home.
Then in March 2019, the family’s world was turned upside down. One Friday, Albert showed signs of a stomach bug, but they kept plans to attend a Raffi concert the next day, which he loved. By Sunday, he still wasn’t feeling well so Amie sat up all night rocking him in his swing, a place he felt most comforted, until he fell asleep. The next day, his breathing seemed laboured, so Amie decided to take him to hospital. As she dressed him and quickly packed a bag, preparing for a hospital admission, he became less responsive. In the ER room, his heartbeat was faint. Doctors performed CPR, but despite their best efforts, they couldn’t save him, and Amie and Jonathan stayed with their boy as he passed away. Through her pain at his unexpected death, Amie asked a social worker to call Rotary Flames House and in no time, clinical nurse specialist Kathryn da Silva and Dr. Kevin Levere were by their side. Kate Ross from Child Life also came over to make a hand and footprint impression before wrapping Albert in a special blanket. Amie, Jonathan and Henry have returned to the House for grief support sessions. Though it was difficult to return to the House without Albert, the family is grateful for the loving care they continue to receive there as they learn ways to keep Albert’s memory alive.
Albert’s family says though their time with him was short, Albert brought immeasurable joy to their lives. They are so grateful for the compassionate caregivers who surrounded him with love throughout his life, and in his death.
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