Best wishes from Labrador City

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Two years after their son, Cayson, was flown to the IWK for open heart surgery, the Travers family returned to the IWK with a special gift.

Cayson Travers was born with transposition of the great arteries. His medical journey began in his local hospital in Labrador City, then went onto the Janeway in St. John’s, Newfoundland and ultimately to IWK Health in Halifax where he had surgery at just eight days old.

Kendra and Cayson Travers

Today, Cayson is happy and healthy and according to his mother Kendra, has everyone in the family wrapped around his little finger. For his recent birthday, the family asked for donations to support the IWK instead of gifts. The Travers family used the money to create packages for families with children receiving care in the Heart Centre.

“The family told us during their last visit of their plans to raise some money for our department by asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents for Cayson this year. We were all very touched by this of course,” says Gina O’Leary, nurse practitioner, IWK Heart Centre. “But when they showed up with a huge parcel of custom-made totes full of goodies, with each bag also containing the children’s book Zip Line [a children’s book about open heart surgery] by David Humperys, we were blown away!”

Each package is in its own tote bag, decorated with a heart, and includes a copy of the book, a journal to encourage parents to write down their questions and a two-page letter from the Travers. In their letter, the family welcomes others to the ‘heart parent club’ and advises them to take care of themselves and ask for help when they need it.

“Having already distributed several of the gift bags, I know the impact it has had on families,” says O’Leary. “It brought one mother to tears, just knowing someone has walked in her shoes and had such a similar experience — especially when she read that Cayson is now a happy, busy two-year-old boy.”

The travers family signed their letter saying “We send so much love to you and know you are never alone. Best wishes from Labrador City, NL.” During COVID-19, when feelings of loneliness and worry are being amplified, this kind gesture from complete strangers in another province is making a huge impact.

“During our global pandemic, many of our families are coming to the IWK with much less in-person support from friends and extended family,” O’Leary says. “These bags have provided a much needed ‘hug from a distance’ and are really, very special.”