Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, December 26, 2014

Personal Tragedies, Christmas Mourning

"I said to his father Mark, 'Your son's a hero. He died a hero because of this, giving the gift of life'."
"It's never going to bring him back, but knowing that he helped other people has brought some comfort to the family."
Yvonne McKinnon, Ottawa

"He was the love of his parents' life, and now he's gone."
Krysia Kurylowicz, acting executive director, Parkway House

Cameron McKinnon suffered a fatal brain aneurysm this week.

A few days ago, 14-year old Cameron McKinnon, beloved son of Heather and Mark McKinnon, gave the ultimate gift to society. His organs were harvested to enable other people to live, where fate ordained that he would not. Last week he had planned to help out at a food bank, along with his class. He wasn't able to, as it happened, because he had a cold and was feeling ill, so he remained at home.

This was a young man whose parents have devoted their working lives to the care of others. Heather McKinnon has worked for over twenty years as a caregiver at Parkway House, a home for disabled adults. Cameron had been going to the home since he was an infant, so he was well known by both the staff and the residents of Parkway House.

Mark McKinnon worked as well as a caregiver for the disabled. He has suffered serious health problems of his own the past four years, and has been unable to work. Mark and Heather's only son suffered a devastatingly fatal brain aneurysm this week. His parents decided their son's organs would be used to enable others to live, where their son could not.

To allow that to happen, since inclement weather had closed in, making it impossible to transport the organs to waiting recipients, Cameron was kept on life-support for days. "You knew he was gone but to do it for that many hours was very courageous of them", stated Cameron's great aunt, Yvonne McKinnon. His parents had spent days at the hospital, holding the hand of their clinically dead son for comfort.

On Christmas Eve around 6:40 p.m., Cameron underwent surgery to remove his organs for transplant. Just before midnight, his parents were informed that the surgery had been completed. He was a shy, quiet, gentle boy, according to his great-aunt, given to helping others. Helping others is what he most certainly did as his last legacy in life, with his untimely death.

It just is not possible to have any inkling of the depths of despair of parents when such an incredibly calamitous occurrence takes the life of a child. It would be as though the future had suddenly and irretrievably dimmed, the joy sucked out of life, a miasma of dread and foreboding, anguish and misery overtaking life. And although compassionate and caring family members and friends do their best to give comfort, it is an impossible task.

On Christmas Day, we ourselves experienced a horribly unforeseen event. We lost a beloved little animal. One day he was well, the next he was in organ failure. He was fourteen years old, a toy Apricot poodle who was our companion, sharing our lives, every moment of it, for we went nowhere without him.

On Tuesday we took him to our local veterinarian hospital. Blood tests and X-rays revealed something dreadfully wrong. From there we took him directly to another veterinarian hospital with more advanced diagnostic equipment and an ultrasound was done. We had consultations with the veterinarian surgeons.

The following day, Christmas Eve, he underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder. Nodules were found on his enlarged liver, one was removed for a biopsy. By Christmas Day he had been placed on life support. Trying to modulate his blood pressure, intubated for rehydration, pain relief, breathing assist. His vital signs were poor, and aggressive methods were taken to try to resuscitate him.

He was not a child, but he was as a child to us. We are devastated. How much more so must be the parents of that young boy. Their home will never again be what it once was.

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