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Holiday Appeal 2013 – AJ’s Story

Holiday Appeal 2013 – AJ’s Story

illu-AJ-MinkLife can change in a heartbeat – just ask AJ Mink and his family.

It was a typical Saturday in November, 2011. Seventeen-year-old AJ had just returned from giving his friends a lift home, and was upstairs getting ready for basketball practice and washing up for lunch.

His parents, Dave and Michelle Mink, were downstairs. They didn’t hear him hit the floor, but an odd noise from upstairs caught their immediate attention.

“I heard the worst sound ever. It sounded like someone trying desperately to gasp for breath. We called up and got no response. I had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach. By the time I got upstairs, AJ was on the floor suffering from a full-blown seizure,” Michelle recalls.

Years of first aid training kicked in, and while Dave dialed 9-1-1, Michelle sat with her only son, comforting him and trying to keep him safe, while potential causes and worst case outcomes raced through her mind.

The dispatcher remained on the line with the Minks until the ambulance arrived and the paramedics rushed AJ and Michelle to the Georgian Bay General Hospital emergency department. Dave followed in his vehicle.

“You hear a lot of people talking about how long they had to wait in emerge, well I can tell you when you arrive there with someone who is suffering a serious or potentially life-threatening illness, there is no waiting. He received immediate attention,” Michelle says.

The doctors were running tests, and AJ seemed to be recovering, when the second seizure hit.

AJ spent five days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), leaving his bed only to undergo more testing, including an MRI in Barrie. Michelle rarely left his side.

“The nursing staff in the unit is outstanding, they truly are. Not only did they take exceptional care of AJ, but they took the time to answer any questions we had. If they didn’t have immediate answers, they followed up later. We always felt that everyone involved in our son’s case, truly cared about us, and it wasn’t just us – they were just as attentive and caring towards the other patients on the unit and their families,“ says Michelle, who notes that everywhere they went in the hospital, people stopped them to express genuine concern for AJ and the rest of the family.

While AJ certainly didn’t want to be in the hospital, Michelle says he understood that he had suffered a serious medical emergency and knew that it was important to undergo whatever testing the doctors required.

Michelle says they still don’t have all the answers, but they do have some insight into the cause of the seizures.

“It was Dr. Josef Dolezel who found something on AJ’s EKG, an indication that there may be a link to his heart,” explains Michelle. He has undergone further testing at the regional cardiac care unit at the Southlake Health Centre in Newmarket, and has been referred to another doctor in London, close to where AJ is now attending college.

As for AJ, life has returned to near normal. Now 19, he is in his first year at Fanshawe College, enrolled in a General Business program. He lives in residence, plays intramural basketball and made the varsity golf team.

“He’s doing very well. I try not to worry, but as a mom, when you have a love that is so huge for your child, and something happens…well, let’s just say it takes a while before that comfort level is restored,” notes Michelle with a smile.

Through their experience, the Minks know all too well that anyone can end up in ICU, including seemingly healthy teenagers. They also know firsthand the importance of having a well-equipped hospital in their community.

But equipment costs are not funded by the province, and we need the help of people like you – people who care.

Can you help us?

You can make a gift in person at the Foundation office in the hospital. You can call 705-526-GIVE (4483) or by using the Donate Now button at the top of the page.

Thank you in advance – your gifts are making a difference by helping us provide our hospital with the best equipment to provide our best care to our patients – patients like AJ.



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