Build a New Heart Centre for Kids Like Dawson


Let me tell you about a little boy named Dawson who is alive today because of donors like you. Once you have seen the impact of your giving, I hope you will consider supporting our campaign for a new Heart Centre, so that we can help more children just like him.





When Dawson’s mother, Shandi, gave birth to her baby boy, all went smoothly. He was born with a heart murmur, but it was expected to disappear in a few days.

All was well for the first two weeks of Dawson’s life. But then he began sleeping an awful lot – up to 22 hours a day. The family doctor checked him out and reported that everything was fine – but suggested that Shandi take him into Children’s Hospital just to be extra sure.


I had this gut instinct that something wasn’t right,” says Shandi. “So I took him to Children’s Emergency that same night.”


An examination found that the heart murmur was still there. And X-rays revealed that the baby’s heart and liver were enlarged. That’s when a cardiologist was called in.


 “I realized then that this was not good,” remembers Shandi.


Her fears grew as the cardiologist said “I think I know what’s wrong, but I’m going to contact another cardiologist to be sure.” As Shandi says, “When they call in a second cardiologist – that is never a good thing.”

The cardiologists diagnosed Dawson with a number of conditions that were keeping him from thriving. The main problem was a hole between the two arteries in the heart. Only 1 in 100,000 babies have this condition – it’s extremely rare.

What Shandi thought was a quick check-up at Children’s Hospital suddenly became a great deal more.


The doctor said ‘I’m sorry, but you can’t leave the hospital. You need to stay here. If everything is what it seems, Dawson will need heart surgery.’ My whole life just stopped for a moment.”


Dawson was admitted to Children’s Hospital right away. In preparation for transferring him out of province for heart surgery, our dietitians put him on a high calorie diet, and the cardiologists monitored him closely. For Shandi, it was a relief to have a member of our team take care of all the details for her.


Luckily, the Heart Centre has an amazing social worker who did all the planning,” she remembers. “They told me that my job was just to get on that plane with Dawson, and they had everything else covered.”


Dawson’s surgery was only three hours – but it was the longest three hours of Shandi’s life. And then it was back home to Winnipeg, and dedicated post-op care here at Children’s Hospital.


We’ve been on the regular ward, PICU, Emergency, respirology, urology, seen dietitians, social workers, nurses, doctors, specialists and more,” lists Shandi.


“The end result is that Dawson should go on to live a normal, healthy life. But if it wasn’t for Children’s Hospital, who knows what could have happened? If it wasn’t for that one doctor ordering that one X-ray, it could have been terribly different.


            If it wasn’t for Children’s Hospital, Dawson most likely wouldn’t be here.


Shandi is right. If it weren’t for the team here at the Heart Centre – and his wise mother bringing him in at the very right time – Dawson would not have made it. I am so thankful for the mother’s instinct that told Shandi that something was wrong. I am thankful for her doctor telling her to bring Dawson in.

And I am so thankful to donors like you for ensuring that we were here that night to save Dawson’s life.

Dawson and children like him are exactly why I am asking you to join our Heart Centre campaign today. This new Centre will help us save more children just like him.

Thank you once again for your dedicated support of Children’s Hospital. And for your compassion for the children we care for here. I look forward to continuing to work with you for those children over the months and years to come.

With sincere thanks,

Dr. Reeni Soni
Head of Pediatric Cardiology
Children’s Hospital of Manitoba