For Cyndi Figueroa, an emergency trip to Connecticut Children’s 10 years ago meant the difference between life and death.
Cyndi, who was 16 at the time, was gravely ill and her organs were shutting down from a fast-moving infection that was ravaging her body. But thanks to the life-saving care she received at Connecticut Children’s, the New Britain mom is alive and well today and is proud to support the hospital through the Costco Campaign for Connecticut Children’s.
Throughout the month of May, Costco Wholesale locations in Brookfield, Enfield, Milford, New Britain and Waterbury are inviting their members to donate at checkout in support of Connecticut Children’s, which serves thousands of children, adolescents, young adults and their families from across the state and beyond. Last year, Costco employees and their members raised more than $230,000 to support patient care at Connecticut Children’s, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
“Costco has always been about connecting with the community,” said Cyndi, 26, who is employed as a supervisor at the New Britain Costco. “Connecticut Children’s is the most prominent children’s hospital in our area, and the hospital is important to our members and to our communities.”
For Cyndi, the campaign is also personal.
When she was a junior in high school, Cyndi developed symptoms that were baffling as well as life-threatening. “It started off with a sore throat,” Cyndi said. “The next day I went to the doctor and was given antibiotics for Strep throat (a bacterial infection caused by group A streptococcus). Then I developed a horrible rash that they thought was a reaction to penicillin. I also had really low blood pressure.”
Over the next few days, the rash spread to the inside of Cyndi’s mouth and she developed a fever. “By the third day, it was really bad,” Cyndi recalled. “I couldn’t eat anything and I felt disoriented with my surroundings. We went back to the doctor and he said, ‘You have a very sick child. You need to go to the hospital now.’”
Cyndi said her doctor called ahead to Connecticut Children’s, and her mother drove her straight to Emergency Department, where she was seen immediately.
Over the next two hours, a flurry of activity surrounded Cyndi, as the medical staff examined her. But it was unclear, she said, whether she was suffering from toxic shock syndrome—a rare but life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections—or Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare but serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes, which occurs in reaction to a medication or infection.
What was clear was that her kidneys and liver were shutting down, and a crash cart was nearby in case resuscitation was necessary.
Later, Cyndi was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where she remained for two nights, followed by four additional nights on an inpatient floor. It took heavy doses of antibiotics to stop the infection and, by the next day, Cyndi said she already started to feel better.
Although it took six months to fully recover from the experience, Cyndi said she is grateful for the care she received at Connecticut Children’s.
“Some people lose fingers or toes from this type of infection,” she said. “I didn’t lose any fingers or toes, but the top layer of skin on my hands came off and I had no fingerprints for a while. I got here within an hour of dying,” she said, “and they saved my life. The doctors and nurses were amazing.”
And that’s the kind of expert care Cyndi wants available for all children, including her own. She and her husband, Christopher, have a 3-year-old daughter, Maddy, who was seen in the Emergency Department at 8 months of age, and they have a second baby on the way in August.
How You Can Help
“Our goal at our Costco is to raise $40,000,” said Cyndi, who is leading one of the five teams at the New Britain store competing for bragging rights in a friendly competition to raise the most money for the Costco Campaign, which runs through May 31. “One hundred percent of the donations will go to Connecticut Children’s.”
Costco members can help by purchasing paper balloons with donations ranging from $1 to $100. Bigger balloons sell for $500.
“We decorate the balloons and put them up all over the walls,” Cyndi said, noting that the cashiers are motivated with an additional incentive: “Whoever raises the most money will get to throw a pie in their manager’s face,” she explained.
All of the good-natured fun is for a cause that Costco employees, like Cyndi, believe in. If you would like to help, visit any of the Costco locations in Brookfield, Enfield, Milford, New Britain or Waterbury now through May 31, or click here to learn more.