Spotlight on Our Volunteers
Antara Ramkissoon began volunteering for Kawasaki Disease Canada in December 2016. She joined the Awareness & Education Committee six months after her (now) four year old son, Aayan was diagnosed and treated for Kawasaki disease in June 2016.
Here is his story:
When Aayan woke up with a stiff and sore neck, we thought it was very strange but chalked it up to him playing rough as he usually does being a 3 year old boy. Later that evening, however, it was more than a sore neck, we noticed swollen areas on both sides accompanied by a fever. We administered Tylenol and tried to make him comfortable that night. He didn't eat or drink anything and it was very unlike him to be so lethargic. That night was rough, none of us got any sleep and his fever was running high. The following morning we took him straight to his Family Doctor. After taking a look at him, he was prescribed antibiotics for what appeared to be strep throat. After returning home and giving him his suggested dose of antibiotics, we waited. It was unusual, because we noticed his palms and soles of his feet looked red and swollen for a few hours. We thought it was likely as a result of his fever which still remained high. That entire day he did not eat or drink anything and he never used the bathroom. Later that night he broke out in an awful rash all over his arms and thighs. His eyes looked bloodshot and we knew our son was suffering. The inside of his mouth and tongue looked raw and his lips were cracked. We rushed him to the ER. When he was finally seen by the ER doctor, we were told that Aayan might have had a reaction to his antibiotics and we were given a new prescription. We were also told to give him an Aveeno Oatmeal bath for his rash. Feeling unsatisfied with the medical advice, we reluctantly came back home. We gave him all colours of Gatorade, offered various ice cream sundaes and any imaginable dessert in hopes to get something in his system. He remained lethargic and ate nothing. The following day, (day 4), his fever remained high, he was dehydrated, we tried to give him a bath. He screamed in pain and discomfort and had a nose bleed. He became very ill and nearly collapsed on the floor when we called 911. The ambulance came and we rushed back to the ER. They quickly gave him IV fluids and ran blood work. We stopped the antibiotics as it was unclear what was happening in his tiny body. After being admitted and quarantined in the hospital the ER Pediatrician this time took matters in his own hands. After 24 hours in the hospital and being misdiagnosed twice, finally on day 5 it was determined that Aayan had Kawasaki Disease. He displayed textbook symptoms: fever for 5 days, bloodshot eyes, swollen lymph nodes, strawberry tongue, cracked lips and red/swollen palms and feet. The skin under his feet started peeling. He was rushed for an echocardiogram which thankfully showed no damage to his heart and his IVIG treatment was started. By day 6, on the evening of June 3, 2016, Aayan started to show signs of improvement after receiving the full round of IVIG treatment. The fever finally subsided and he finally had urine and bowel movements after having food by mouth the next day. We kept him cool and gave him tons of ice and freezies to help him as that is all he wanted and could keep down. After one more successful echocardiogram the following day, we were being discharged from the hospital. Aayan remained on Prevacid and Aspirin therapy for approximately 8-10 weeks after IVIG. We noticed the skin on his hands and feet peeled during this time. Thankfully, all post-treatment echocardiograms showed no damage to his heart and Aayan recovered fully from this acute disease.
Today, Aayan is followed by his Pediatrician and Cardiologist with annual heart follow ups. We truly feel blessed that Aayan was diagnosed and treated for KD within the critical 10 day period and we do everything we can to spread awareness of this disease.
Antara was born in East Africa, and as a child moved to Canada with her family. She completed her Degree in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University, graduating with honours in 2005.
She began her very rewarding career with Scotiabank around the same time and over the years held numerous roles. She gained an interest in Project Management, and obtained certificates in Project Management from the University of Toronto in 2014. Antara is currently a Senior Manager, Program & Business Development with Scotia Wealth Management at the Scotiabank Head Office in Toronto.
Antara has been married to Rajin for seven years. In her spare time, Antara loves to travel, cook, and garden. She has recently also adopted a holistic approach to life which combines mindfulness and ancient Yogic practices, and completed the Inner Engineering program through the Isha Foundation in March 2017.
With a renewed sense of passion and involvement with Kawasaki Disease Canada, Antara is excited and committed to the work being done in this not-for-profit organization. Recently, Antara took on the role of Co-Chair of the Awareness & Education Committee and continues to network with Schools and Doctors in the GTA West community to raise the level of awareness and education of Kawasaki Disease.