• By: Aaron Nava

Logan Hussein’s special twelfth birthday

Above: Logan Hussein with his parents, Sue Mackey and Wael Hussein, at his 11th birthday fundraiser. Photo: Grace De Castro

Logan Hussein was born on Nov 26th, 2008 at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. It was a complicated birth, and Logan struggled to survive after being born with pneumothorax, a collapsed lung. Logan was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in a specialized incubator and remained in the CHEO Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for nine days.

“I thought I was going to lose him,” says Logan’s mother, Sue Mackey. “When I saw him plugged into all those bells and whistles, I thought that’s it — we are going to lose him.”

But with the help of the good nurses and doctors at CHEO, He survived. For Logan’s first birthday, on November 26, the Hussein family hosted their first fundraiser, asking that guests donate to CHEO’s NICU Unit instead of providing gifts. The response was beyond anything they imagined, and has since become an annual tradition.

These days, Logan says he’s doing well. “These days my health is Really good. I’m healthy, basically because of that incubator, and because of CHEO and because of all the doctors, nurses and support staff at CHEO.”

He seems to have handled 2020 reasonably well, too. “We’ve been managing. I think what’s actually been getting me through this pandemic is my dogs. I have two dogs that have always been there and they’re really cuddly and friendly.”

Since 2009, Logan and his family have raised $70,000 for CHEO’s NICU, with more than $20,000 raised last year alone. So what’s next for Logan? “Mayor! Logan for Mayor!” interjects his mother. Logan shakes his head. “I don’t wanna get into politics.”

One quickly sees where his mother gets the idea. In addition to his high-profile birthdays, Logan, who turns twelve this year, can provide details on his latest fundraiser with the clarity of someone with professional media training. “Our goal this year is to raise $200,000 for a neonatal transport incubator,” says Logan. “One of those is desperately needed by CHEO. I was transported in one of those incubators, and without that incubator I wouldn’t be here today.”

Understandably, Logan says these incubators have a special connection for him. “I remember once when I went to CHEO, I got to see a little baby in an incubator. Seeing that was really inspirational.” Referring to how these sensitive devices are often transported, he adds, “Whenever there’s an Orange helicopter in the sky or air, I’m thinking ‘that’s why I raised this money’.”

This year, Logan’s Birthday fundraiser is a little different—those who donate to the fundraiser will be able to attend the virtual event online, this November 28th. But the family has found a way to personalize things. “If you donate the $50, you’ll get a little gift package that includes a free ticket to get a free pizza from Gabriel’s Pizza, and also a couple cupcakes from Loblaws Barrhaven in the bag, so that way it’s like you’re celebrating at our house.”

Sue Mackey clarified some of the loot bag’s interesting logistics. “The purpose of what we call these loot bags is there’s a tradition at our parties that every kid would get a little loot bag of some sort of description,” Mackey says. “This year we’ve got these loot bags for anyone who has donated fifty [dollars] and signed up for his party. And in the loot bag it will have Logan’s favourite snacks, and some cupcakes to celebrate his birthday as well, because they won’t be able to have our famous 26-pound cake that we make. So the loot bags are just a giving point from us. We have a courier of people who will drive these loot bags around the city.”

If delivering loot bags by hand for a virtual party seems like a lot of work to lend a personal touch, Logan’s family is quick to note that they’ve had good help. “Peter Nicholson and the WCPD have taken this fundraiser to different heights,” adds Wael Hussein, Logan’s father. “It started from a humble fundraiser and from there it really just skyrocketed.” Wael adds that this fundraising couldn’t happen without CHEO’s support from the beginning.

Hopefully Logan and his donating guests have a special birthday, and enjoy the birthday party experience from home. If they achieve their goal, CHEO could help more newborns like Logan in the future.