Gabby Friedman has been fighting since the day she was born.
At just 14 months old, she underwent her first surgery to help control persistent ear infections and remove her adenoids. Two months later, her parents rushed her to the emergency room when she was suffering from seizures with a dangerously high fever.
Doctors found that Gabby’s white blood cell count was low and her platelets were non-existent. But they were unable to determine the cause. Then, just before her 2nd birthday, Gabby’s parents returned to the ER and were told that her major organs were starting to shut down. She was then diagnosed with Portal Vein Thrombosis and Portal Hypertension, a rare condition caused by a clot in the portal vein.
Gabby spent the first three years of her life in and out of hospital, requiring surgery every 90 days as her condition left her in constant danger of severe internal bleeding. But in 2005, a new surgery called the Rex Shunt procedure would change Gabby’s life forever.
The surgery was performed at SickKids in Toronto, and within a year Gabby’s liver and spleen had been repaired, and she was well on the road to recovery.
Stacey Friedman, Gabby’s mom, said the biggest challenges they faced came early on.
“The team at BC Children’s had difficulty coming up with a clear plan (the leading specialist is in Chicago) and in the end, it made the most sense to send Gabby to Sick Kids in Toronto for surgery and BC Children’s would do her follow up care. When there is a really sick kid in the family the whole family gets affected,” says Stacey.
Now 15 years old, Gabby is in grade nine, enjoying science, art, soccer, and drawing, as well as spending time with her five pets. She only visits BC Children’s Hospital for regular checkups to monitor her condition.
“I was very little when I diagnosed and sick, but I know my mom and dad fought for me. It was instinct for me to stay positive and happy. Now that I am 15, I know I have to eat healthy, exercise, I can’t drink or smoke, and I have to take care of myself. I have to go for annual ultrasounds and blood work to make sure the bypass keeps working and there are no changes in my liver and spleen,” says Gabby.
Stacey is grateful to BC Children’s Hospital for diagnosing her daughter’s condition early. “Gabby has had an unbelievable success rate. Without a doubt — if BC Children’s Hospital did not exist, my fiery 15-year old would not be here today.”
All you have to do is purchase a $20 lapel pin or $5 button at any participating retailer across BC, then pair it with your denim co-ord. If you can’t get to a store you can still donate online. Remember to take a photo and upload it to social media, tagging @BCCHF and using the hashtag #JeanUp.
When: Thursday, May 3
Where: All locations across BC
Price: Purchase a $20 lapel pin or $5 button at any participating BC retailers or donate online