Fifteen-year old Gabby Friedman, a grade 9 student in Richmond loves science, art and spending time with her five pets. She is self-confident, with a quick wit and bright smile. Gabby is also an avid soccer player, and recently had the opportunity to go on the field with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Jeans Day Athlete Ambassador, Marcel de Jong.
The picture of youthful vitality today, it’s difficult to imagine that Gabby spent the first year of her life in and out of hospital. At 14 months, she underwent her first surgery to help control persistent ear infections and remove her adenoids. Two months later, suffering from seizures and a dangerously high fever, Gabby’s parents rushed her to the emergency room. Doctors found that her white blood cell count was very low and her platelets were non-existent, but were unable to determine the cause. Shortly before her 2nd birthday, with their daughter suffering similar symptoms, Gabby’s parents returned the Emergency Department and were told that her major organs were starting to shut down. Gabby was diagnosed with Portal Vein Thrombosis and Portal Hypertension, a rare condition caused by a clot in the portal vein.
Gabby’s condition left her in constant danger of severe internal bleeding, and every 90 days, she required surgery to put bands around her veins. A new procedure conducted in consultation with BC Children’s Hospital was performed in Toronto, and changed the course of Gabby’s life. Following the procedure, Gabby’s liver and spleen repaired within a year, she caught up physically and developmentally, now visits the hospital only for regular checkups to monitor her condition.
“I was very little when I diagnosed and sick, but I know my mom and dad fought for me,” Gabby said. “It was instinct for me to stay positive and happy. Now that I am 15, I know I have to eat healthy, exercise…I have to take care of myself.”
Gabby’s mom Stacey says they are incredibly fortunate, and she is grateful to BC Children’s Hospital for diagnosing her daughter’s condition early. “Gabby has had an unbelievable success rate. Without a doubt – if BC Children’s Hospital did not exist, my fiery 15-year old would not be here today.”
We are proud to have Gabby as our 2018 Jeans Day Champion Child. Participating in Jeans Day is an easy way to make a big difference in the lives of kids like Gabby. On May 3, join individuals, corporations and schools across BC and #JeanUp for BC’s kids.
Jeans Day buttons can be purchased for $5, and lapel pins for $20 at these official retailers: Save-On-Foods PriceSmart Foods, Urban Fare, London Drugs, Thrifty Foods, and Country Grocer on Vancouver Island. To participate, individuals, corporations and schools can also register to be a champion at www.jeansday.ca.
Quick facts about BC Children’s Hospital
- BC Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the province devoted exclusively to children, serving the one million children in BC and the Yukon;
- All children who are seriously ill or injured are referred to BC Children’s Hospital and are either treated at the hospital facility in Vancouver or, with consultation from BC Children’s specialists, in their home community;
- More than 86,000 children received care last year;
- One of the only pediatric medical centres in North America with a world-class acute care centre, research institute, mental health facility, and soon, a rehabilitation centre all on a single campus;
- The province’s leading pediatric training facility;
- Largest pediatric research institute in Western Canada.