Jack Seber was about to turn eight years old when he was diagnosed with a debilitating kidney disease.
It was a difficult day for the young man from French Creek and his family, as it led to an unexpected and challenging year-long journey that started at Oceanside Health Care Centre when he first fell ill.
His parents were advised to take him to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for further tests. Following that, Jack was transported by ambulance to Victoria General Hospital where he spent 19 days under intensive care. He was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease and was transferred to BC Children’s Hospital, where he had to undergo a major surgical procedure.
His dad, Adam Seber, said it has been a tough experience for his son, who is now nine, but it has not completely dampened his spirits and hopes. He has accepted his health condition and is determined to fight.
“Sometimes mentally he gets a little down, but he’s actually very stoic,” said Adam. “He’s very smart. We asked him ‘Jack, do you know what’s going on?’ And he says, ‘yeah, I’ve got kidney disease and I’m a little different from other kids. But all I have to do is make sure that I eat what I’m supposed to, need to drink what I’m supposed to drink, go to the bathroom, when I have to go to the bathroom, and I’ll be OK’. He’s a really cool kid.”
What also motivates Jack is his parents’ commitment to always keep him informed and involved in the process regarding his condition and treatment.
“We’ve always been very honest with him,” said Adam. “We don’t talk to him like he’s a child and because of that I think he’s more mature than your average nine-year-old in most cases. And because of this he takes his recovery very seriously. He asks the right questions. Sometimes, the little kid in him comes back and that’s actually more of a surprise when his attitude towards the disease, like, he’ll ask, ‘can I still be a professional motorcycle racer when I grow up?’ And I said of course you can.”
Jack underwent a major surgery called the Mitrofanoff procedure. It creates a new tube on a child’s belly that allows Jack to urinate using a catheter. Adam was impressed with how well Jack reacted to the procedure.
“They actually removed his belly button,” Adam said. “They took his appendix out, used the tubule from his appendix to go directly from where his belly button used to be directly into his bladder. Four times a day he puts a catheter to open it, and he drains himself. I think I would be terrified to do that even as an adult. For a nine-year-old he does it, no problem. Because of this surgery Jack’s kidneys have gone from 22 per cent to over 40 per cent functionality.”
Adam said the whole experience was nerve-wracking. He and his family are extremely grateful for the services by doctors and staff at BC Children’s Hospital.
“We had concerns, of course,” said Adam. “I’m sitting here with his mom and both of us are saying, ‘Great, we’re going to have a kid with a hole in the stomach for the rest of his life’. We didn’t really fully understand it. But we talked to the specialists and because it’s a teaching hospital and there’s so much research being done there, we had a lot of trust in them. And we did our own research online and everything looked good. There is no downside to doing this and that.”
Jack has taken a year off from attending school at Oceanside Elementary. Adam said it will take another six to eight months before he heals entirely. He is now back at home.
“Life is going to get back to as normal as possible for him soon, we hope,” said Adam. “Then he can go back to school and doing things like playing hockey again.”
Adam said he is impressed with the work BC Children’s Hospital is doing and encourages people to fully support the foundation’s fundraising efforts.
“That’s important,” said Adam. “There are very sick kids that wouldn’t receive the same kind of treatment that we’ve got. If it wasn’t for donations, we wouldn’t be getting free ferry rides back and forth, the rooms and the treatment that our son has had. It’s important to remind people when they’re at Save-On-Foods or other outlets to put $3 into the little donation bin for BC Children’s Hospital.”
BC Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the province that is devoted to the care of children. One of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation major fundraiser is the Choices Lottery, which it is holding again this year. It supports world-leading research initiatives that lead to innovative discoveries and treatments, which in turn directly help experts at BC Children’s Hospital advance their quest to conquer childhood illnesses. Lottery funds help accelerate the pace of turning discoveries into life-saving treatments – ultimately helping more kids get back to being kids.
Ticket sales for the Choices Lottery run until April 7, 2022, but tickets often sell out before the final deadline. Individuals can purchase their tickets online at https://bcchildren.com, by phone, 604-692-2333, toll-free at 1-888-887-8771, in-person at London Drugs and Save-On Foods.