Profile of a Champion: Drew Jakobsons

“You’re the best.” That’s what 10-year-old Drew of Niagara Falls is fond of saying to others.

Drew Jakobsons

Drew Jakobsons

“He genuinely believes that everyone is the best,” says Drew’s mother, Leianne. “His unconditional love of everyone is heartwarming.”

Drew is determined to live life to the fullest, despite his medical challenges. The first of these challenges occurred at 38 weeks of pregnancy, when Leianne became concerned that she couldn’t feel Drew kicking any more.

“I knew I had to go to McMaster Children’s Hospital,” explains Leianne, who wanted to be under the care of the hospital’s interdisciplinary specialists. “My daughter had been born there a couple of years earlier and it was a great experience. That’s why we drove an hour to Hamilton instead of going to our local hospital. That decision probably saved Drew’s life.”

Leianne was admitted to the maternity ward for monitoring. The next morning, she began to experience tiny contractions. Drew’s heart rate plummeted with each contraction, only to normalize after the contraction had ended. Feeling that Drew could not withstand having his heart rate drop so low repeatedly, an emergency cesarean section was performed.

“Drew was born with Down syndrome and he spent the first seven days of his life at McMaster Children’s Hospital,” Leianne remembers. “He experienced a host of challenges in that first week, including difficulty breathing, a falling platelet count and jaundice. Three holes were also discovered in his heart, but it was determined that the holes would heal naturally over the coming months.”

Drew went home after being stabilized, but he would continue attending regular appointments with various teams at McMaster Children’s Hospital for medical procedures and therapy. Down syndrome has caused cognitive and developmental delays, including low muscle tone that affects his speech and motor skills.

“He didn’t walk until he was 27 months old and was very unstable for a year after,” says Leianne. “He didn’t speak until he was five, but he communicated with over 300 signs. Nothing was going to stop him from engaging with people!”

Over the years, Drew has visited McMaster Children’s Hospital for a number of medical issues, undergoing procedures to treat his urinary tract, improve his hearing and help his swallowing. Through it all, he has maintained his positive outlook on life and his love of socializing with others.

Drew is growing stronger every day and his speech is improving with therapy. Until he reaches the age of 18, he will continue to visit various clinics at McMaster Children’s Hospital, where he has made friends with many of his care providers.

“With his low muscle tone and delayed motor skills, Drew works so hard to do things that we take for granted, and he does it with a smile,” says Leianne. “With assistance, he will live an active, productive and healthy life. I’m so proud of him.”

Leianne is grateful for the support of donors to McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation, which positively impacts Drew’s patient experience.

“Donors are so important in helping to ensure that patients like Drew can keep receiving such amazing care.”

Drew is McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Patient Ambassador for the 2017 Champions presented by Walmart program.