Candles lit in support of Canadian Paralympian fighting for her life

·3 min read
Danielle Campo McLeod (centre), with her husband Denny and three of their children, gave birth on Aug. 17 and is now in critical condition. (Submitted by Colleen Campo - image credit)
Danielle Campo McLeod (centre), with her husband Denny and three of their children, gave birth on Aug. 17 and is now in critical condition. (Submitted by Colleen Campo - image credit)

Community members are banding together in support of a former Paralympic champion who is on life support at Western University Hospital in London, Ont.

Danielle Campo McLeod, a world champion swimmer from Tecumseh, Ont., suffered complications after giving birth to her third child, daughter Morgan, on Aug. 17. She's had to undergo several surgeries to correct a bowel strangulation

"We're asking everyone for prayers because she needs a miracle. We're always looking for as many prayers as we can get," said Leo Demarce, Campo McLeod's uncle.

Her complications arose after giving birth by caesarian section. She underwent surgery at Windsor Regional Hospital to have some of her bowel removed and was able to go home. But further problems developed and she returned to hospital for emergency surgery for septic shock.

"People think childbirth and c-sections are just standard. It's amazing how things can go wrong," said Colleen Campo, Danielle's mother.

On Sunday Sept. 12, Campo McLeod was transported by ORNGE ambulance to Western University Hospital and remains in critical care, on life support machines.

World record setter

Campo McLeod learned to swim and became a world-class athlete, despite being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of two. She won a total of seven medals representing Canada at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia and Athens, Greece. She also won multiple world championship gold medals and set world records.

Last year, she received a new diagnosis called congenital myasthenic syndrome [CMS].

Sanjay Maru/CBC
Sanjay Maru/CBC

She started taking medication for CMS in July 2020. Campo McLeod told CBC News it was like having a "brand new body."

According to her mother, Campo McLeod stopped taking the medication when she became pregnant, and that affected her muscular strength.

"When she gets weak, she gets really weak," Campo said. "That medication she was taking, she could not take it while she was pregnant."

'Community is waiting for her'

Over the last few weeks, supporters from around the world have been showing support for Campo McLeod by lighting candles.

"Our community, Canada and the world are lighting candles. It is this movement of prayer. I asked when she first got sick to pray for her," Campo said.

"Lighting candles so Danielle knows the light of the community is waiting for her to come back."

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Father Patrick Beneteau, the pastor of Windsor-Lake St. Clair Catholic Family of Parishes said members of the church have been praying and sending messages of support and encouragement for her and her family.

"There has been a great outpouring of support for her at the level of prayer but also at the level of our thoughts in connection to her as a member of our church community," said Beneteau.

The church invited members to light a candle and pray for Danielle during mass over the weekend and throughout the week.

"It's an expression of our love for her," he said.

Campo McLeod is currently in critical condition, on a ventilator, on life support and heavily sedated. According to her mother, the support from the community is what's keeping her daughter going.

"Danielle gave herself to this community, talking at schools, talking at service clubs. She did that for 20 years of giving herself and they're giving it to her back," said Colleen Campo.

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