Like many teens on the North Shore, hockey is a huge part of his life and he had picked up his share of scrapes, bangs and bruises over the years. However, this hit, which landed in the space between the protective padding, had damaged his spleen. He skated off the ice doubled over but the shock and pain subsided so he travelled home and was back at school on Monday.

While Denis went about his life, he was slowly bleeding internally into his abdomen. Four days later, his spleen finally burst and he collapsed on the floor of the school washroom. The school nurse took one look at him and called an ambulance.

By the time he got to the LGH Emergency Department his parents were at his side. “From the moment we arrived, the staff were just on their game,” recalls his mother, MJ Tuck.

Denis was parched but ordered to lie down and not allowed fluids. He said he needed to go to the washroom, but his real intent was to get a sip of water. As he took a few steps from the bed, “he went white beyond words”. Two nurses were there in a flash to catch him and over the next few nail-biting minutes, Emergency staff converged around his bed to carry out a series of tests to determine the precise cause of the symptoms. Denis’s condition was critical and he had immediate surgery.

“It all happened so fast,” says MJ. “The staff were so very amazing and Dr. Amanda Johner was working at lightning speed. We are so thankful.”

Instead of removing Denis’s spleen, Dr. Johner cauterized it so there were two pieces still linked together. Denis spent a week under close medical supervision in the Surgical Close Observation Unit at LGH. His spleen has since re-grown. LGH is here for families across the North Shore during their times of need. For Denis, the swift care he received ensured he made a full recovery from his injury and was able to return to the sport he loves.

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