Margaret McLeod will be forever grateful to the staff at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) for saving her newborn daughter’s life.

The L’Orignal mother of three young girls is urging people to donate generously during the annual CHEO Telethon, which began May 24 and wraps up with a live finale on CTV Ottawa on Sunday, June 6.

Just hours after her youngest daughter Eloise was delivered normally at Hawkesbury General Hospital on August 31, 2020, the newborn baby went into respiratory distress. It took six hours before Eloise could be stabilized and rushed to CHEO by ambulance, where she was placed on the highest form of ventilation. After fighting for her young life for 19 days with respiratory distress, persistent pulmonary hypertension and an infection, baby Eloise was finally healthy enough to be discharged from CHEO’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“I owe my life to them,” says Eloise’s mother, of the team at CHEO. “I could list countless stories of times the nurses went above and beyond for us.”

“When the doctors or nurses handle your sick baby, it’s as if they were handling their own child. The love and the care – you can feel it, you can see it.”

Now nine months old, young Eloise’s progress since her battle for life has been amazing says her mom. She is adored by her father Chris, and big sisters Norah, 11, and Lilia, age 6.

“Eloise is doing phenomenally,” beams McLeod. “She’s right on track development-wise and there seems to be no long-term repercussions from her experience.”

“Every day is a blessing.”

Viewers of the finale of the CHEO Telethon on Sunday, June 6, will get to meet six brave CHEO families, as well as front-line workers, live on CTV Ottawa from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. It is an opportunity to learn more about how life at CHEO has changed and how it remains the same during the global pandemic.

Despite the ongoing state of emergency, CHEO’s front-line heroes are responsible for caring for the sickest kids in Eastern Ontario and must provide services that families are able to rely on – no matter what. COVID-19 doesn’t stop illness, disease and injuries from devastating families and changing lives forever. Treatments for chronic conditions must be accessible and options for families with medically complex children cannot be limited. The CHEO team has acted quickly to protect patients, families and each other while continuing to provide the support the community needs.

Donations to CHEO can be made during the telethon until June 6 at . During the live CTV broadcast on June 6, those who would like to donate can call 613-730-CHEO (2436) or 1-833-744-2436. CHEO Foundation employees will be standing by to accept donations.

Margaret McLeod says she was always a supporter of CHEO, but after her experience she realizes the hospital is not just a facility, but a miracle.

“The way I look at it is if you’re drowning and someone pulls you out of the water, you’d feel like you owe them your life,” McLeod says gratefully. “How do you repay them?”

“They do this every day. It’s just so amazing what they accomplish.”

Newborn Eloise spent 19 days fighting for her life at CHEO’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“Every day is a blessing,” says mother Margaret McLeod, of daughter Eloise, now happy and healthy at nine months old.