If you have a CHEO story you’d like to tell, we’d love to hear it. We are always in need of stories and patients and parents to be involved in CHEO Foundation fundraisers such as Radiothons and the Caring for Tiny Hearts Magazine.  Allowing us to tell your story helps raise awareness of the great work that CHEO doctors, nurses and staff do every single day.

If CHEO holds a special place in your heart, and you would like to share your story with us, please click here and e-mail us your thoughts.

Isla MacIntosh


Isla MacIntosh is so much fun to get to know. She’s energetic, enthusiastic, kind and vibrant. Like a lot of wonderful young people in our community she has dreams for the future and a varied list of sports she likes to play and things she’s excited to be learning in school. But unlike many of her peers Isla’s had challenges to face. In 2008 at the age of four, Isla was brought to CHEO’s emergency department where tests revealed she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her treatment protocol lasted over two years. She endured rounds of tests, numerous admittances to CHEO’s oncology ward, and the effects of both chemotherapy and radiation. It was a hard time.

It would be easy to say that this brave girl is doing well for someone who had been through so much at such a tender age, but that is just not accurate.  Isla is doing well in life, period. She is curious, engaged, positive and above all healthy. When asked how she is feeling now the quick and sure answer is that she’s “feeling 100%.” Her yearly check-ups show her to be thriving and Isla makes her trips to CHEO knowing she’ll see some of the nurses who were part of her care team. “They’re amazing,” she says. Isla was too young to remember the worst parts of being a pediatric oncology patient at CHEO, but she holds on to the good parts, and remembers how the staff were able to “make the experience better.”Isla-Final

There’s no question Isla faces things with a positive outlook. She has to; she’s a goalie after all. When those pucks come flying at her head she’s not afraid, as she says, “I love it!” This humour and determination is part of what makes Isla such a great ambassador for the Sporting Life 10K Ottawa event this coming May. Who better to show us all how we can accomplish things than this girl who has faced some scary moments and come through with her spirits high. With her mom Gillian and sister Gwynn by her side and dad Jeff cheering them on, Isla will be running the 10K to raise money for oncology care and research at CHEO. And she has a challenge for the rest of us, she’s reached out to her family, her friends, and her hockey team to get them involved and now she’d really like to see other young people join in. She knows not everyone is a runner, and she admits, “10K is hard, but I’ll do it.”

What about you? Will you join Isla, her family and others who are putting their time and energy towards the care and treatment of CHEO’s most vulnerable patients? Every dollar raised supports the work of doctors, nurses, researchers and staff at CHEO and brings us one step closer to eradicating childhood cancers. Isla may not need CHEO anymore, but her generosity in giving back is humbling and inspiring. Please, support Isla as she runs 10K and support the children at CHEO who we hope will one day join her and fulfill our goal for all of CHEO’s children to be like Isla, kids…not patients.

CHEO patient Jacob Randell hosts a party for Champions from across Canada!

Spring17CMNEach year, CHEO identifies a remarkable child to represent all CHEO patients in the Children’s Miracle Network Champions program presented by Walmart Canada. This awareness program was designed to educate communities on the life-saving work being done by pediatric hospitals across the continent. Jacob Randell has been a CHEO patient since being diagnosed with atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour at the age of five. Jacob required a 17 hour surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. He needed physiotherapy to learn how to walk and eat again and was later diagnosed with Schwannoma, a genetic condition which causes tumours to grow on nerve endings. Last year, Jacob underwent esophageal surgery to help with trouble swallowing. Jacob has been through a lot, yet he remains a happy, loving and inspiring young man.Spring17-Jacob

Jacob is playing host to Canada’s 12 other Champions who are in Ottawa to take part in our country’s 150th anniversary celebration. They have a full itinerary in the Nation’s Capital today including an early morning shopping spree at Walmart, a visit to Parliament Hill, and time at the Canadian Museum of History.

The celebration will conclude with a spectacular party at the Ottawa Marriot. Over the weekend all Children’s Miracle Network hospital foundations have been encouraging their communities to show their limitless support by filling up a yellow balloon online. These balloons are physically being filled up in real time in a room at the Ottawa Marriott. Tonight at 6 p.m. all 13 Canadian Champions and their families will be surprised by walking into this room filled with THOUSANDS of yellow balloons representing Canada’s support for them. You still have time to be part of this amazing event by visiting and blowing up a balloon in support of Jacob and the thousands of children and youth who rely on Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across the country.

Senators bring holiday cheer to CHEO’s kids

Senators bring holiday cheer to CHEO’s kids

The hockey heroes of Canada’s capital came to visit the kids at CHEO and OCTC on December 22th and once again the children, youth and their families were overjoyed to see their favorite players in person.
The Ottawa Senators started this annual tradition back in 1992 making this the 25th time the players have dropped by in December to hang out with CHEO families. Everyone at CHEO thanks the Ottawa Senators for all of their support and wishes them the best over the holidays and for the rest of the NHL season.

OCTC and CHEO – Stronger Together

One of the wonderful stories to come out of CHEO and the Foundation in 2016 is the amalgamation of CHEO and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC).   With a motto of “Stronger Together,” this amalgamation will provide families easier access to more integrated and coordinated services.  The goal is to provide services under one umbrella that will mean a single ‘system of care’ that will focus on the unique needs of the children and youth who use both CHEO and OCTC.

The CHEO Foundation was proud to be part of an exciting announcement on December 5, 2016 that would mean more positive changes for those who rely on OCTC and its programs.   On that day, construction was officially launched on an expansion of the OCTC building expected to be complete by summer 2017.

CHEO Foundation President and CEO Kevin Keohane announced $2.1 million in funding for the project to complement a $600,000 commitment from the Ontario government.  “With CHEO and OCTC sharing so many families, this amalgamation makes perfect sense.  It is an honour for us at the Foundation, thanks to the generosity of our donors, to do what we can to help make this expansion a reality.  This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure the children and youth who use OCTC to have the best environment in which to work, plan and learn so they can reach their full potential.”


The expansion replaces two portables that have become inhabitable. It will house a Francophone preschool, six new clinical treatment and observation rooms, a toy lending library, and an adaptive equipment workshop.  There will also be staff workstations and meeting space to alleviate some overcrowding at CHEO -OCTC.

Hon. Michael Couteau, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services (CYS) was also on hand for the celebration.  “We are committed to making sure those children and youth with disabilities have access to safe, quality accommodation for their programs,” said Minister Coteau.

“This expansion will be a place for our teams to work side by side to help advance our vision of one door, one story, one care plan and one team for every child,” said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO – OCTC.


Reunited: Sophia and Dr. Dhanani

It’s been ten years since Sophia King Gillis and her parents, Bill and Laurel met Dr. Sonny Dhanani at CHEO. Sophia was five years old and was brought in with a very high fever and experiencing hallucinations.

That was November 3, 2006.

During the drive to the hospital – Sophia’s eyes half open and seemingly vacant, she said, “Mummy, I can’t see.” Read More


LCBO employees and generous customers inspired by brave CHEO patient

This month LCBO stores throughout Ontario are giving back in a big way thanks to a dedicated team of employees, generous customers and the inspiration of a brave young man. Read More

Meet Dawson


Donate Now

From the moment Dawson was born I learned that I would need to take life one day at a time in order to be strong for my family. I can tell you without a doubt it was not easy to think that way initially. Read More

CHEO/OCTC amalgamation

Devon’s Story

Dawson’s Story

From the moment Dawson was born I learned that I would need to take life one day at a time in order to be strong for my family. I can tell you without a doubt it was not easy to think that way initially.

Dawson was born on March 20, 2000. That day his father Patrick and I heard the doctors discussing the option of starting him on dialysis. He weighed seven pounds, 12 ounces. Dawson was born with a condition called posterior urethral valves. His kidneys were underdeveloped and did not create urine. Dawson needed CHEO’s help.

For his first four years CHEO was a lifeline for Dawson. Time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, surgeries, medications and plenty of appointments were needed to ensure that Dawson’s kidneys functioned. With the help of his nephrologist, Dr. Janusz Feber, Dawson became a candidate for a kidney transplant.

I did not hesitate for one second to be his donor. I was tested and was a match. How could I not? I would, and will do, anything to save my son’s life!

Keep strong. Never lose hope. That’s our motto. That motto was put to the test. For eight years we lived a somewhat normal life. Dawson still had to take anti-rejection drugs daily and lots of blood tests but thankfully his day-to-day consisted of school and making friends.

Then in 2012 tests showed his kidney function was decreasing. His amazing doctors gave him two options: dialysis three days a week at CHEO or at home seven nights a week.

Dawson chose nightly at home, called peritoneal dialysis. It’s a lot of work to prepare and get him hooked up. But it means his daytime life is not disrupted. He goes to school and hangs with his friends and then every night from 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. he is attached to his dialysis machine. It is what keeps his body functioning while he waits for a transplant.

That’s right. Dawson needs another kidney transplant. To look at him you really can’t tell he is sick on the inside. Outwardly Dawson is a happy, super positive 16 year old. Inside, he is very sick. Having to undergo dialysis isn’t easy on him. He suffers from chest pain, muscle spasms, diet restrictions and more. There are many side effects to kidney failure.

That’s where supportive donors like you can come in. Your generous gift today means my son receives amazing care at CHEO. Please consider renewing your gift today.

You can provide hope to patients at CHEO. What we are going through is tough but with CHEO’s support we feel lucky. When we have to spend nights at CHEO, we laugh, literally. Staff members do what they can to make my son smile and laugh. You can’t know what that means when you spend your nights worrying about the future.

Humour is our medicine some days. When Dawson looks at me and says, “I’m tired of being Dawson,” I reply with, “Would you like me to call you Mike?” We laugh together. I know what he really means of course. Waiting for a kidney donor is hard. But while we wait we will laugh together. You see, we are each other’s superheroes.

You can be a superhero too. Please support CHEO and the many patients that need you, especially at this time of year.

I look forward to the day we get to report back that my son has a new kidney and no longer needs dialysis. Wouldn’t that be a special gift?

With gratitude,

Bettina Iraci

P.S. Please consider becoming a monthly donor. Your gift will help CHEO kids each and every day.