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Why I still cherish doctors’ phone calls 10 years later

Like every parent, I view the birthday of my children as a day to celebrate. But every birthday we celebrate with our daughter, Sidney, who recently turned 10, is especially precious.

Moments after her birth, Sidney was placed into the caring hands of the doctors and nurses at Akron Children’s Hospital, especially those in the Heart Center and NICU.

About 24 weeks into my second pregnancy, we learned our unborn daughter had a serious heart defect. The joy and anticipation of planning for her arrival suddenly gave way to tears and uncertainty.

After many hours spent in dimly-lit exam rooms, we learned the diagnosis – double outlet right ventricle (DORV) – and that Sidney would require a surgery soon after birth and then two more in early childhood.

Pat and I will always be indebted to the Heart Center team, especially Drs. C.R. Patel, John Lane, Phil Smith and Michael Spector, and our nurse Michelle Wilson. I vividly remember getting a phone call from each of them on the day Sidney was born, telling me they saw Sidney, assessed her and noted, “everything looked fine.” They told me to get some sleep, and that they would see me the next day.

She was transported from a local hospital in Cleveland. It was so positively impacting and overwhelming to me that I received five phone calls. It is difficult enough knowing your child is born with life threatening complications, but having to send her off four hours after birth was just as challenging. I had to release her without being by her side, but she had her dad and all of these wonderful doctors and nurses who just entered our lives.

I gave a sigh of relief that day, and knew she was in great hands. Ten years later, I remember that I did, in fact, rest because these busy doctors took the time to call to give me mental comfort during a critical time when I physically could not be there.

And Sidney’s journey began … and it has been an amazing journey ever since.

I deeply believe Sidney has the best quality of life today due to the knowledge (a gift) of Dr. Patel and the gifted hands of Drs. Smith and Spector, and Dr. Lane, who (I believe) conducted her catheterizations.

I will always remember that Michelle spent time with us after the surgery and talked with me about how Akron Children’s goal is to give all kids the best and most normal life possible.

Flash ahead 10 years. Today, Sidney loves school, horses, sports and hanging out with friends. In short, she is a typical 10-year-old girl and, for that, we are beyond grateful.

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