They were told it was common for newborns to have long naps, and that their two-day-old baby’s alarming symptoms were most likely jaundice.
When Justin Nicholas Vuong came home from the hospital, he appeared very lethargic and was not breastfeeding well. His eyes were glassy and had rolled back into his head a few times.
Parents Debra and Hung called the maternity ward at Langley Memorial Hospital several times seeking advice. But when Justin began to “sweat like he (had) just run a marathon,” stopped breathing and turned blue, they knew they had to get to the emergency room right away.
The tiny baby spent five days in an incubator in the pediatrics ward back in September, 1998, suffering from severe dehydration. He passed away and came back to life three times, including once in his father’s arms. But thanks to the swift work of the doctors and the nurses, today Justin is a healthy 18-year-old.
“We spent many days in the hospital and he was very, very ill,” Hung recalled.
“And we were young parents that were quite challenged by bringing a kid into the world. And for him to pass away on us three times in the span of 24 hours was quite challenging.
“Dr. Dornan was the doctor that delivered our baby, and he said in his 18 years of experience, he had never seen a child so dehydrated.”
Despite running into many problems at the hospital, including confusion between staff and lack of beds, Hung says he has never forgotten how the Langley Memorial doctors and nurses saved his son’s life.
And now, Hung wants to show his appreciation by giving back to the hospital in a way most meaningful to him.
Through his company, Exmark Transportation Services, Hung has organized a Christmas concert featuring “Mr. O Canada” Mark Donnelly, who is well known for singing the national anthem at Vancouver Canucks games, and Donnelly’s daughter, Colleen.
The event, being held at Murrayville Hall on Friday, Dec.16, is hosted by Mark Madryga, and proceeds will be donated to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.
“It’s going to be an event that is absolutely the highlight of the Christmas season,” Hung said.
“There will be a beautiful theme of ‘White Christmas’ where there will be a grand piano on stage with nine Christmas trees. It’s all going to be white, so it will be very beautiful.”
Hung, who is a huge hockey fan and has been a Canucks season ticket holder for 18 years, first met Donnelly six years ago a hockey awards event.
“I looked over and Mark was standing in the corner warming up his voice. I cracked a joke and said, ‘Hey I know you,’ while he was wearing his famous hat. And we one day in Langley ran in to each other at Flourishing Restaurant … Mark was sitting in the restaurant, and I looked over at him again and said, ‘Hey I know you.’ And we embraced each other and he gave me a bunch of his Christmas CDs. And from there I kept in touch with him.”
For Hung, music has always been a source of inspiration and Donnelly’s voice stirs great emotion within him.
“By doing this concert, it does help the hurting soul. It’s healing, and Mark’s music heals me,” he said.
“Mark spends so much time prepping for his concerts, and when he sings you can feel it … Mark can move, put tears in people’s eyes by his music.”
Tickets for the evening are $45 and include the concert, appies and dessert. There will also be a cash bar, visit from Santa and silent auction, with prizes such as a steak tasting from Canucks head chef Robert Bartley, hockey jerseys, Canucks tickets and more.
“For me, it’s about giving back to the community for what God has provided to me and my family,” Hung said.
“I’m a big believer in giving and supporting different avenues in the community. By doing this, I’m hoping there will be more people that will take the lead to do good for the community, because that’s really important to me. And Mark and I are such big believers in giving.”
To purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.ca and search “Christmas with Mark and Colleen Donnelly.”