Okanagan boy gives back to B.C. Children’s Hospital after years of surgeries

Spencer Sawatzky of Coldstream raised $8,000 for Jeans Day Foundation

Coldstream’s Spencer Sawatzky has raised $8,000 for the B.C. Children’s Hospital – the place that saved his life – through the Jeans Day fundraiser. (Sawatzky family - photo)

A twelve year old Coldstream boy with Crohn’s disease has started an annual fundraiser to give back to B.C. Children’s Hospital (BCCH), the place he said saved his life.

Spencer Sawatzky was flown by air ambulance to BCCH the Christmas of 2015 when an x-ray revealed a perforated bowel. Within an hour of arriving he was on the operating table to remove the left half of his colon due to ulcerative colitis.

“It was pretty scary, I didn’t know what to think,” said Sawatzky.

On Jan. 16, 2016 Spencer had severe bleeding from his incision. After being checked by a doctor they made the call to take him back for a second emergency surgery.

“This time they had to remove the rest of his colon,” said Spencer’s mother Krista Sawatzky.

Spencer stayed in intensive care for three days this time as he had lost a lot of blood and needed a couple of blood transfusions. “He spent the next four weeks recovering in the hospital from his two emergency surgeries,” said Spencer’s father Neil Sawatzky.

READ MORE: Richmond teen to represent BC Children’s Hospital for Jeans Day

It has been a strenuous four years for Spencer in and out of Children’s Hospital.

“Since February 2016 Spencer has undergone a J-pouch surgery, flown to B.C. Children’s Hospital early March, spending two weeks treating an abscess, home for 30 hours, flown back for a second abscess and had surgery to put in a PICC line and drain, a reconnection surgery July 2017,” said Krista.

It wasn’t until October 2017 when a scope revealed Crohn’s disease, after Spencer was admitted to the hospital on multiple occasions for severe dehydration, below normal sodium and potassium

“In November 2018 we were flown once again to Children’s for a bowel obstruction, after two weeks of trying all measures he had surgery, we went home the end of November,” said Neil.

Spencer continues his treatment every four weeks in the medical day unit at BCCH and he gives back, he has started fundraising for the hospital in part of Jeans Day.

“I want to thank the doctors and nurses for all they do for me while I’m at the hospital and fundraing is a way to do it,” said Spencer.

READ MORE: B.C. mom speaks out about paying $8,000/month for Crohn’s disease drug

For the last four years, Spencer and his family have been fundraising and have made close to $8,000 for Jeans Day Foundation.

“We set up at Silver Star and school to sell badges and raise funds to help the hospital continue to run the facility and save lives, like they did for Spencer,” said the Sawatzkys.

Jeans Day is one of B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s most popular province-wide fundraisers, where families and community members raise money year round for the special celebration day which falls this year on Thursday.

“Jeans Day will support B.C. Children’s Hospital in its quest to transform health care for the one million-plus kids who count on the hospital,” said Children’s Hospital vice-president of philanthropy Maria Faccio. “Funds raised through Jeans Day will help advance innovative research, purchase advanced equipment, and create spaces and practices that prioritize the unique needs of kids and their families in every aspect of their care,”

READ MORE: Local family supports Jeans Day

She said more than 200,000 British Columbians, including individuals, families, businesses and students, will wear their purchased Jeans Day lapel pins and don their head-to-toe denim attire in support of BC’s kids.

Jeans Day pins are available for $20 at participating retailers, including: Save-On-Foods, Overwaitea Foods, London Drugs, Thrifty Foods and Country Grocer. Learn more and donate online at jeansday.ca.

Faccio said the foundation has been running for close to 29 years and last year it raised $1 million and they hope to raise that again this year.


@LarynGilmour
laryn.gilmour@blackpress.ca

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