2018 Children’s Miracle Network Champion Hilary Warren showed amazing strength and positivity during a life-changing health struggle
Fifteen year old Hilary Warren’s life was turned upside-down instantly in 2016. It was a routine day when she complained to her older sister of a headache, taking to her room to rest it off.
She was found collapsed and unresponsive on her bedroom floor and immediately rushed to the Janeway hospital, where she was diagnosed with a arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
The AVM had ruptured, causing a severe bleed in her brain. Emergency surgery was required to save her life.
“We will never forget those hours after the neurosurgeon told us that he was going to do everything he could do to save Hilary’s life,” shared Hilary’s father, Duane Warren. “We stood outside of the PICU pacing back and forth the hallways. You are numb, you feel powerless and helpless. You find yourself praying, hoping, crying and feeling out of control. Those three hours felt like forever.”
The immediate aftermath of the surgery was touch-and-go, to say the least, with enough uncertainty to keep the entire family on pins and needles.
“When the neurosurgeon started to walk down the hallway toward us it felt like someone was holding a pillow over your face,” Warren shared. “He looked at us and told us that the surgery was a success but she was far from being out of the woods. He told us that the next 72 hours would be very critical to her survival. She lost a lot of blood and she needed to remain in an induced coma to keep her motionless and prevent any further bleeding.”
After she was placed in an induced coma, questions remained as to whether or not Hilary had sustained lasting brain damage. Yet her mother Trina would display an amazing strength and hopeful will that lifted the entire Warren family.
“She was our rock,” Duane said of his wife. “She wouldn’t let anyone think anything negative. She told everyone that went in to see her that even though Hilary was connected to so many pieces of life saving equipment that they couldn’t cry.”
Road to Recovery
Miraculously, Hilary woke with full mobility of her limbs. Though the road to a recovery would be anything but easy (scarring on her brain resulted in epilepsy), Hilary’s remarkable positive attitude and determination would dictate her road towards a normal life.
That determination and unwavering optimism in the face of uncertainty caught the attention of the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation, as they named Hilary their 2018 Children’s Miracle Network Champion.
“The thing that amazes me about Hilary and her story, is that young girl was never worried about herself,” shared Lynn Sparkes, President and CEO of the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation. “She was always saying “don’t worry mom, don’t worry dad,” taking care of her brother and her sister. She put them first and didn’t want to put them out and would reassure them that everything would be ok.”
For the Warren’s, the staff at the Janeway will always hold a special place in their hearts and minds.
“They became our extra family,” shares Duane. “We still talk about the nurses and doctors and how awesome they were and we find ourselves calling them by their first names, like we have known them forever. They were so professional and at the same time so caring. From the morning rounds, update meetings, to the constant care that they gave Hilary, they would always tell us what they were doing and even though Hilary was in a coma they would look at her and tell her too.”
Happy & Healthy
Today, Hilary is back to being a happy healthy teenager, although one who is not ready to take anything for granted.
Her family shares that Hilary has seemingly matured five years in a matter of days and weeks. She travelled to Ottawa and Orlando, meeting with other children’s champions across North America, an experience that was as inspiring as it was life-changing.
“To hear the stories of young kids and teenagers who battled near impossible odds, to hear stories of healing and most of all stories of hope,” Hilary shared. “These sick kids with huge smiles on their faces would brighten up the whole room. These smiles were the smiles of champions, heroes and are true miracles.”
For a young girl that could have easily fallen into hopelessness or despair when the going got tough, Hilary Warren’s positive attitude and will to survive embodies the very quality of a champion.
“I am so proud to be an Ambassador for the Janeway, to spread the word of the great things that they do,” Hilary said. “It is an honour to be chosen to be the Champion Child.”
‘What Really Matters’
“When we come up across children like Hilary and all of our children going up against very serious illnesses at the Janeway, it opens your eyes and shakes you up a bit,” adds Sparkes. “It gives you a little bit of reality to say ok, what really matters here?”
For Duane Warren, an unimaginably thankful father and husband, this experience is an unforgettable one, but one that has made he and his entire family stronger in every sense.
“It shakes your whole world,” he said. “You often say how fragile life is, but you don’t really realize just how until something like this happens. The small things in life that affected you seem a hell of a lot smaller. Your child’s bedroom being in a mess may have upset you before, now it’s, like, who cares? We were always a hugging kind of a family, but now we hold on a little tighter and a little longer.”
Janeway Children’s Miracle Network Telethon
Broadcasting on NTV Saturday, June 2 @ 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. & Sunday, June 3 @ 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m