Janeway Champion Child Quinn Schmiedendorf

Quinn Schmiedendorf is the 2020 Janeway Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child


Twelve year old Quinn Schmiedendorf of Middle Cove has faced many physical challenges over the years. However, when telling her story, the child is upbeat, articulate and knowledgeable about her medical condition.

Quinn was almost eight weeks old when diagnosed with one of three main types of spina bifida called meningocele. The condition causes a defect in the formation of the spine. 

She has a tethered spinal cord which means it is attached (tethered) at the base of the spine and cannot move freely. She also has a growth hormone deficiency which makes her smaller than most girls her age.

Quinn underwent surgery at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s shortly after her diagnosis. The first operation she can remember took place in March 2017. “That was on my spinal cord but there were a few complications which resulted in a few follow-up surgeries over the next few weeks,” Quinn said during an interview at coffee shop in St. John’s.

Open and honest

Quinn spent two months in the Janeway where she underwent six surgeries. When asked if she’s been in pain following her operations, she didn’t hesitate in answering honestly and matter-of-factly.

“Yes. That’s goes without saying,” she said, recalling how well she was treated at the Janeway. “The nurses were so nice to me. They are still my friends.” 

Quinn recalled a mural of a monkey on the wall in her hospital room. “It wasn’t the prettiest,” she laughs, “so the nurses made me a Golden Girls poster to put over it,” she said. 

As Quinn recalled the first names of many of the nurses who have cared for her at the Janeway, her mother, Kim Schmiedendorf, who is also present for the interview, spoke of her gratefulness to the doctors and nurses at the hospital.

As a parent, Kim said, she was feeling particularly drained and helpless.  “Quinn was recovering from her fourth surgery and had the fifth one coming up. She was really down … I kept asking her what I could get for her to eat,” Kim said.

Lending a helping hand

Quinn told her mother that she would eat some hash browns. An excited Kim quickly headed towards the cafeteria only to be told that breakfast was no longer being served. So very disappointed, Kim broke into tears.
When a second cafeteria employee asked why Kim was upset, she suggested it was okay to prepare the order. “Even if they had to give me a million dollars, nothing would have been better. That lady made Quinn’s day better. And she’ll never know that.”

Following her surgeries at the Janeway in 2017, Quinn spent two months in the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal in 2018 where doctors operated to correct her severe scoliosis.

“The doctors said if it got any worse it would start to cut off my lung function,” Quinn said.  “Quinn had screws put in her head and they put four rods in her back … we go back there every six months,” Kim explained.

On January 14, the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation announced that Quinn had been chosen as the 2020 Janeway Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child. She will travel to Orlando, Florida in April, representing Newfoundland and Labrador’s sick and injured Janeway children during Children’s Hospitals Week, sponsored by Walmart Canada and the Air Canada Foundation. 

Draws strength

The Florida trip is an opportunity for Quinn to meet other Champion children from across North America. “My mom is going, too, and my grandpa and aunt,” she said excitedly.

Quinn doesn’t hesitate when asked about her career goals. “I want to be a pediatrician,” she said. 

Kim smiles and nods at her daughter’s answer. She draws strength from Quinn, she said, and feels lucky to be her mom.

“Quinn has taught me courage; that it will all be okay. She just pushed on through any challenge. It’s like she knows there is something better on the other side of it. That’s a gift. Her positivity is also a great lesson. She’s just an old soul. And I thank God she picked me to be her mom,” Kim said.

Quinn’s story will be shared on the Janeway Children’s Miracle Network Telethon,  live on NTV June 6 and 7, 2020.

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