When 16-year-old Alexander Levere, started showing signs of being sick, his parents thought he was just coming down with a normal “stomach bug.”
“Alexander started feeling ill around the time his mother, Monique, was just getting over the flu,” says James Levere, Alexander’s father.
Alexander has Autism and a developmental delay, his father says, which affects his ability to communicate clearly.
“Alexander stopped listening to his favourite music and watching his favourite TV programs,” says Levere. “That is when we knew that something was seriously wrong.”
On Dec. 18, his parents brought Alexander to the emergency room at Timmins and District Hospital, where he stayed for several days.
“There he started getting worse,” says Levere. “His stomach started to swell and his appetite got steadily worse.”
Levere says they were told that their son would need to be taken to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa. It was Dec. 21, Alexander’s seventeenth birthday.
“Alexander and his mother were air lifted by Ornge,” says Levere. “I decided to stay behind to take care of things before heading to Ottawa the next day.”
Alexander’s older brother Andrew stayed home to keep an eye on the house and family cat, Bubbles.
Levere says Alexander was rushed into surgery within ten to fifteen minutes of arrival with an acute case of appendicitis. Levere was told by doctors that they also drained three litres of infection from Alexander’s abdomen during the surgery.
On Dec. 26, after spending Christmas in the hospital, Alex had to undergo a second surgery to remove a portion of his small intestine, which Levere was told was leaking fluids back into Alexander’s stomach.
Levere says Alexander spent several days in the Intensive Care Unit before he was transferred to a ward for the remainder of his recovery.
“Weeks following the surgery he was closely monitored by doctors and nurses,” says Levere. “He received his daily nutrients and a wide variety of antibiotics through IV tubes to combat the infections.”
Levere says Alexander’s seven-to-eight inch incision was left open and packed over the course of several weeks as drainage tubes removed unwanted fluids from his son’s body.
“His bandage was inspected by doctors, infectious disease specialists, and nurses to make sure that it was healing and the infection was lessening and his wound was healing nicely and to their satisfaction,” says Levere.
Alexander is expected to be released this week, but his parents want to stay in Ottawa for a couple of weeks to make sure “no problems arise.”
“We do live quite far from Ottawa and CHEO,” says Levere.
Levere says the time spent in Ottawa has been challenging, but they’ve had support.
“During this ordeal we were helped out by our family, his respite care workers, and friends,” says Levere. “We also received help from ODSP.”
Levere says the financial support allowed them to stay with Alexander and focus on helping him get better.
“That drastically reduced our stress levels and allowed us to concentrate more of our energies and time for our son,” says Levere. “For most of Alexander's ordeal he had little to no understanding as to what was happening.”
The Levere family has received some support from the community already. Levere says family friends and respite care workers Janice Bacvar, John Crispo, and Lori Crispo donated some money to help them stay in Ottawa. They also received some money from Roland Michener Secondary School where Alexander is a student.
Local Child & Youth Worker Cynthia Fortier wants to help, too.
“I work with children having neurological disabilities specifically kids having autism and Alex was one of my students,” says Fortier. “When I saw that Alexander became sick and his family was struggling, I just had to help as they are such wonderful people.”
Fortier started a GoFundMe campaign on Jan. 13 and has promoted it through local Facebook groups with the hope of gaining more widespread community support for the Levere family.
“I hope to lessen the burden financially on the Levere family with this fundraiser,” says Fortier. “Hotels, food, gas, etcetera are not cheap to say the least not to mention mounting bills back at home.”
The fundraiser has raised $780 out of a $5000 through GoFundMe as of this publication. Anyone interested in supporting Alexander Levere via GoFundMe is invited to visit the website.