By Rhonda Massad
Five years ago Sheyda Senoglu experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. She put her daughter down for her nap and she never woke up. The sudden death of her daughter Alesia Stravroula Karidogiannis from a rare heart disease gave birth to Alesia’s Magnolias, an organization that has raised more than $220,000 for the MUHC Glen superhospital.
Following Alesia’s death at the tender age of two, doctors discovered she was suffering from a rare heart condition called endocardial fibro-elastosis (EFE). The disease causes tissue accumulation leading to hardening of the shell of the cavities in the heart. It is asymptomatic and almost impossible to detect.
In early December, Senoglu had the opportunity to see all her team’s hard work pay off when she visited the new single patient rooms, the state of the art surgical rooms and the resource centre at the new hospital.
“It was amazing. Each patient will have their own room. There will be a patient room with a plaque over the door carrying Alesia’s name,” Senoglu told The Suburban in an interview.
According to Senoglu, the support of everyone around her and seeing how generous people can be, gave her and her family the strength to get through the tragic loss.
“My children are proud of what we have done. I want my children to grow up learning that they have to give and they have to help. This is how we are raising them. They don’t know anything else. I have three children who are very conscious of what we do,” she explained. “My eight-year-old daughter sits with the board of the organization and participates by giving her ideas. In some ways this helps them connect to the sister they did know. We never want to forget Alesia and this helps us.”
Alesia’s Magnolias hosts several fundraising events each year. The Go Habs Go campaign kickoff is currently underway that will give one lucky person the chance to go to a Habs game with nine friends in a VIP Loge, with food, and alcohol, as well as two other games that include two entrance tickets, all for the fund-raising price of $50.
There will only be 500 tickets sold and all contributions will go directly to Alesia’s Magnolias and then to the Montreal Children’s hospital. The money raised so far has gone towards a patient room and heart monitor machine. Newly raised funds will go towards a waiting/playroom at the new MUHC Glen superhospital to be named after Alesia. The waiting room will be for day surgery patients and parents.