|Condition:||Spina bifida & hydrocephalus|
Dying twice and surviving is not something that most people can talk about. For 16-year-old Nicko, it’s a statement he’s proud to proclaim.
He was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, his back was completely open when he was born, and at two days old he underwent his first surgery, a kyphectomy, where three vertebrae were removed. A few days later he underwent his second surgery which meant having a shunt tube in his head leading down to his abdomen to drain fluid. The surgeries both resulted in an excessive amount of blood loss, meaning that Nicko’s only chance of making a comeback was to fight for his life at only a few days old. Nicko spent the first three weeks of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
There’s been a myriad of other smaller visits to the hospital over the last 16 years. Nicholas has been to the hospital for two shunt revision surgeries, foot surgery as he was born with a club foot, a broken femur and tibia, dental surgeries, CT & MRI scans, X-ray check-ups every six to 12 months, and he has also visited day surgery multiple times for bladder and kidney testing and injections.
“The first couple surgeries that he went through were so frightening,” says his mom Heather. “The amount of blood loss is what shook us the most, but Nicko is an absolute trooper. We couldn’t be more grateful for the specialized care he received during that time.”
“Once, when Nicholas was young, we did have to go to the Stollery in Edmonton for a procedure. But we’re very thankful that since the opening of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, we have been able to stay in province for all of Nicko’s health care needs”
As a 16-year-old who has taken on some of the most daunting medical challenges, Nicko Karpan knows exactly why it’s important to give back to other kids in hospital. Because he knows first-hand how scary a hospital can be for kids, he has quickly stacked up his hours of time dedicated to be the face of many events for Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.
From sharing his heartfelt story live on air at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Radiothon since 2016, to delivering a speech at Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Week Media Challenge, and even taking his place on the starting lineup beside Saskatchewan Rush Players for the Superhero Game Night in 2018, Nicko has made his mark. Most recent, Nicko emceed a live in-person two million dollar major gift announcement and kick-off of our Harvest for Kids Health campaign. Nicko’s generous heart and commitment to help other kids in hospital makes him the epitome of a true champion.