A Sweet Sixteen that would not have been possible without you.
August 21, 1999, parents Brent and Catherine Tremblay received terrifying news about the newest addition to their family. Within hours of his birth, little Simeon’s oxygen levels were at just 25%.
“It was a real shock to us,” says Brent. “We never had any complications when our other children were born.”
“The NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and Dr. Madden responded quickly and managed to stabilize Simeon until he was airlifted to CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) in Ottawa, that same night,” Brent reflects. Simeon the youngest of his five children, was diagnosed with a rare heart defect called pulmonary atresia.
NICU staff at NBRHC (then the North Bay General Hospital) played a huge role in Simeons care. He was sent back-and-forth between North Bay and Ottawa for recovery between surgeries.
“After five months and three major surgeries – including two open heart surgeries – Simeon was ‘out of the woods’,” recalls Brent.
Growing up Simeon’s heart condition required regular checkups and additional surgeries. In total, Simeon has had eight surgical procedures, the most recent in October 2013.
But this month Simeon celebrated a milestone. August 21st Simeon turned 16!
“People look at you differently when you’re 16. You’re older and more responsible,” says Simeon. “And of course, driving!”
“I used to miss a lot of school and I couldn’t participate in sports or gym class. But now I have a little more freedom,” says Simeon. “I’m looking forward to doing a lot of skateboarding this summer.”
“It’s really been an amazing year for Simeon,” father Brent beams. “This year he played baseball for St. Joseph-Scollard Hall and they won the championship.”
Simeon has certainly had a busy year! July 7th he returned from a mission trip to Ecuador and he’ll be off again to Camp Oki, which is a summer camp for kids with congenital heart disease located in Muskoka.
“I’ve been going for four years now,” says Simeon. “I’d love to be a camp counsellor one day.”
Simeon’s heart will continue to be monitored throughout his life and he will require more surgeries; but, with increases in technology the outlook is good with fewer complications and activity restrictions.
What does the future have in store?
Simeon plans to attend Nipissing University in a few years to pursue a career in nursing, hopefully in the NICU or Pediatrics. “Nurses helped keep me alive and I want to give back,” says Simeon. “I want to help other kids like me.”
Inspired by the care Simeon received, the Tremblay Family raises money through their vending business Sim Jim Treats. Since 2002, the Tremblay’s vending box program – Sim Jim Treats has raised over $45,000 to support the greatest healthcare needs at your hospital.
“We never thought Sim Jim Treats would get this big,” Brent says. “We just wanted to do our part because we’re so grateful for the care we received.”
Simeon now helps run the business, restocking and organizing the vending boxes with chips and chocolate bars. Once he learns to drive he will be able to deliver them to local businesses as well. At $1.25 a piece, treats are sold on the honour system at local businesses throughout North Bay. If you’re interested in having a vending box in your office, contact Brent or Simeon at 705.476.2803.