Santa surprises sick kids with uplifting visit to Surrey Memorial Hospital

Surrey Memorial Hospital was Santa’s third stop on a five-hospital tour, which was organized by B.C. Emergency Health Services

  • Dec. 21, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Santa made a special trip by helicopter to visit sick children on Dec. 20

Jennifer Saltman, Vancouver Sun

SURREY — Jithu Srikanth is known around the Surrey Memorial pediatric oncology ward for his generosity. On Tuesday, it was the five-year-old’s turn to receive a neat gift.

With jingling bells and hearty “Ho, ho, hos,” Santa Claus paid an early visit to the hospital, stopping for a few minutes in Srikanth’s room to present him with a small stuffed seal.

“He’s very lonely and very scared, and we were wondering if you could take care of him?” Santa asked Srikanth. “Would you do that for us? Give him big hugs?”

Srikanth was shy at first, but ended up hugging the seal, stroking its fuzzy head and giving Santa a high-five.

After Santa left, Srikanth said he was “nice to me” and was happy to have met him. Srikanth was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in May. Ewing sarcoma is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue.

“He’s inspiring us rather than we’re inspiring him,” his father, Sri Padmanaban, said. “He’s the one who is pushing forward.”

Padmanaban said the Santa visit was “really good” for his son because they’ve missed Christmas parties with friends and family this year. He hopes to take his son home this Saturday.

Surrey Memorial was Santa’s third stop on a five-hospital tour, which was organized by B.C. Emergency Health Services. He left the reindeer at home and travelled by Helijet, escorted by a trusted elf and two infant transport paramedics.

As he walked the hospital hallways, he enthusiastically greeted children who ran up to him and posed for photos.

Santa, who wanted to stay in character and declined to reveal his true identity, said he enjoyed his time with the children and their families.

“I’m sorry to see them in the hospital, but it was sure nice to visit them,” he told reporters.

Alison Everett, a child life specialist at Surrey Memorial, said events like Tuesday’s “normalize” the hospital experience for sick children.

“At a time in their lives when little feels normal, it’s a piece of the outside world,” Everett said, who added that it’s also good for the parents to feel that their children aren’t missing out.

“The parents enjoy it as much as the kids.”

The infant transfer paramedics who escorted Santa also enjoyed themselves.

“It’s awesome,” said Darrel Hunsbedt. “Usually we’re flying in for less-than-perfect circumstances and today we’re flying in to bring smiles to these kids’ faces, so it’s really nice.”

George Madden said it was a reaffirming experience.

“It’s been very, very pleasurable, very memorable. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously,” said Madden. “The joy and the excitement the kids have when they see Santa, their faces just — they just melt your heart.”

jensaltman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jensaltman

Click here to read more stories from Vancouver Sun.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Surrey-area associations gear up for hockey restart

But it’s not yet clear when city-operated rinks and rec centres will reopen

Proposed Marine Drive zone aims to make use of small lots ‘more efficient’

CR-3A zone discussed during White Rock’s first virtual public information meeting

Rugby practices to return to Lower Mainland fields this fall

B.C. Rugby announced its return to play plan July 7

White Rock calls for street-banner artists

Deadline to apply is 4 p.m. July 24

Surrey Mounties seize shotgun, ammo, after officers shot at with BB gun in Newton

Police say they were on foot patrol in the 6400-block of King George Boulevard when someone fired at them with a BB gun

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Investigation clears RCMP in incident where man fell from Langley overpass

‘Officers acted commendably and placed themselves at risk’ police watchdog report finds

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Rural Chilliwack residents asked to stay indoors, lock doors amid heavy police presence

Heavy police presence in rural Chilliwack neighbourhood as RCMP contend with ‘serious situation’

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Most Read