Last month, Conception Bay South resident Cody Porter was focused on attending and making a name for himself at the High Performance Program in Gander, where we was set to try out for Team Newfoundland & Labrador.
The 13-year-old arrived in Gander on Aug. 21 and completed his first round of on-ice and off-ice activities the following day. But that night, he failed to compete in his first game due to what he thought was a fever. He went back to his hotel with hopes that he could sleep it off.
On the morning of Aug. 23, Porter was still not feeling well but managed to make his way to the rink. But his condition continued to deteriorate, and he was soon placed in an ambulance. He was rushed to the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander, going in and out of consciousness along the way.
Within the next hour, Porter's temperature was up to 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn't long after that his vitals flat lined. But with the help of some antibiotics, doctors were able to stabilize Porter and quickly placed him on an air ambulance headed for the Janeway Children's Hospital here in St. John's. During that trip, Porter flat lined a second time.
"I don't really remember much," Cody said. "I only remember getting in the ambulance. That's all I really remember."
"There's no words to explain how fast it all happened," Cody's mother, Laura Lee, told NHL.com. "We never thought he was as sick as what he was. Everything just happened so fast. They had him in St. John's in no time."
Porter was sedated for the next five days. During that time, doctors discovered a growth on his heart. Fortunately, all the tests performed came back negative. In all, he spent 11 days in the hospital. He lost 15 pounds during that span and needed roughly a dozen donations of blood platelets.
"He was asleep for five days and once they woke him up, he was doing good," Laura Lee said. "It took a few days for him to come home, but he's doing well now. The growth shrunk and it went away."
Tonight, Porter will find himself standing at center ice to drop the ceremonial puck for the Kraft Hockeyville game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators at the Mile One Centre. It will be a great moment for a child who has been through so much in the last month.
"I'm really excited about tonight," Cody said. "It's going to be really cool."
"I'm going to cry," his mom said. "I'll be crying the whole time. He's a pretty special boy."
Porter hopes to continue his hockey career soon. Doctors have informed him that he won't have his full strength back until around Christmas, so he'll be staying off skates for the time being. He hopes to try out as a second-year Bantam next season.
"They said I can go back to playing hockey next year," Cody said.