Meet Koby

Giving Back in a Very Sweet Way

Koby survives a stroke

Koby was only 12 when he suffered a stroke. It was a stressful time for Koby and his family, but after weeks in hospital, he is back at school, doing just fine, and giving back to other patients. Thanks to you, Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit saves lives.

They do so much and everyone there is so great. It feels good to give back.”

On October 22, 2013, Nadine Lagasse knew that her son Koby was a little “off”.

“He wasn’t his normal self. He was lethargic and not with it,” she recalls.

They went to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital where a number of tests were ordered immediately. By the next morning Nadine was given shocking news – her 12-year-old son had suffered a stroke.

“Of course I was shocked, but it was also surprising to see how shocked the doctors were,” recalls Nadine. “I didn’t start to panic until I realized they wanted to check out his heart.”

That check of the heart revealed that Koby’s stroke was caused by cardiomyopathy, which no one even realized Koby had.

Cardiomyopathy is a chronic and sometimes progressive disease in which the heart muscle loses its ability to contract or relax normally. While cardiomyopathy predominantly affects adults, in rare instances it does affect infants and children.

“The doctors actually think Koby was in the midst of his stroke when we brought him in to emergency, because he walked in on his own,” remembers Nadine. “By the next morning his right side wasn’t responding, and he drooped at the mouth and wasn’t talking.”

Koby was quickly admitted to the renowned Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

“I was on auto-pilot. I didn’t have time to think. I was just doing,” recalls Nadine. “I remember thinking that we’d be home in a couple of days. I was thinking about his field trip the next week. It was when he went into PICU that I realized we wouldn’t be home for a while.”

Although time in the hospital can be challenging, it also showed Nadine all of the incredible resources available at Children’s Hospital. From the playroom to the classrooms, to the individual attention from the Child Life specialists, Nadine developed a deep appreciation for the incredible team working to help her little boy.

“It was comforting at PICU because you have your nurse there all the time. The nurses really make you feel a lot better. They were really good at keeping me relaxed. They would help me understand exactly what was going on,” says Nadine. “Sometimes I would be terrified and I’d have to go find my nurse and they would be like; ‘relax, this is what Koby needs’ and it made everything better.”

In total, Koby spend two weeks in PICU and two weeks on the ward, which meant that Koby wouldn’t be able to partake in trick-or-treating, one of his favourite activities. At least, that’s what Koby and Nadine thought.

“I was sad because of his age last year it was likely to be his last time trick-or-treating, and I was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to go,” says Nadine.

What a wonderful surprise on Halloween night, when the staff from Child Life showed up to take all of the kids trick-or-treating throughout the ward.

“At the end of the day, I thought that it was the best Halloween ever! It was sad to be in the hospital, but they put so much heart and work into making it so distracting,” remembers Nadine. “Koby got to dress up (as Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty), they gave him a treat bag, and there was no shortage of candy as he went all over the ward trick-or-treating. Then later that night, med students dressed up and came to the kids’ rooms. They popped by and chatted with all of the kids and brought them all kinds of candy. Koby thought it was great.”

Nadine thought it was pretty great, too, and as the one-year anniversary of Koby’s hospital stay approached, she decided to do something about it.

“Children’s Hospital made last year so special,” recalls Nadine. “I was thinking that this Halloween we’d really like to give back.”

That is the inspiration behind “Koby’s Candy for Kids” – a program at Koby’s school where students are invited to bring in unopened, peanut-free treats for kids in hospital or cash donations.

“We are from a small town and we come from a great community, and I thought why not send a letter to the school and see if we can get some candy or donations for the kids,” says Nadine. “The principal and staff at the school have all been very supportive.”

For Nadine Lagasse, the decision to help out was an easy one.

“Children’s Hospital does so many amazing things for the kids. They work so hard to have fun things happening, and to keep the kids distracted from the realities of the hospital. It felt like family,” remembers Nadine. “I even had a hard time once I got back home because I missed my nurses and my doctors. I missed the team that cared for Koby, because once I was home it was just me. I just want to give back. They do so much and everyone there is so great. It feels good to give back.”


Modified in February 2017

 Your donations help kids like Koby survive traumatic health events. Your support creates the conditions for outstanding professionals to treat patients effectively and bring comfort to their families.