January 17, 2020
2020 Champion Child to bring awareness to rare blood disease
As she steps into the role as this year’s Champion Child, 13-year-old Torrie Schaffer of Balcarres is ready to share her story of perseverance, after being diagnosed with a rare blood disease at just nine years old.
“What excites me about being the Champion Child is getting my disease out there, so people understand it more. Knowing that now I can help other kids in the hospital, it makes me really happy,” Torrie said.
In 2016, two weeks before her shocking diagnosis, Torrie started to notice some unusual symptoms. She was admitted to hospital in Regina with a low platelet count, and soon after had no platelet count at all. The provincial Pediatric Transport Team rushed to airlift her to Saskatoon’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Torrie was soon diagnosed with Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) Autoimmune Blood Disease, which can be fatal if not treated right away.
The perfect treatment for Torrie’s rare, serious blood disease was a special piece of equipment, which was thankfully purchased just six months before her diagnosis with funding from Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. Torrie was the very first child in Saskatchewan to be treated with the new Pheresis machine. Without access to this life-saving equipment, children just like Torrie would have to travel out of province for treatment. To continue to keep her health in check, Torrie visits Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital every two to three months to see a pediatric hematologist.
This year, Torrie will be taking on the important role of the 2020 Saskatchewan ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network Champions Program, which honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. Torrie will travel to events across Saskatchewan and North America, sharing her incredible story and representing the province’s sick and injured children.
As part of the Champions Program, ambassadors and their families are invited to travel to Orlando, Florida in the spring to meet other Champions from across North America for Children’s Hospitals Week.
“Torrie is truly the definition of a champion and we are very excited to have her serve as our Champion Child for 2020,” said Sash Broda, Manager, Development and Engagement at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “With her inspiring story, we know she will do an amazing job sharing what the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital means to her and other kids from across the province.”
Torrie takes over from 13-year-old Blake Wheeler of Saskatoon, who was born severely premature and spent 110 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.