Pediatric ‘heart warriors’ reunite with doctors who saved their lives
TAMP, FL. – Dozens of families gathered on Saturday to reunite with the doctors who performed life-saving heart surgeries on their children.
On Saturday, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital gathered more than 60 pediatric patients and their doctors for a special reunion celebration at Macfarlane Park in Tampa. For many of them, it was the first time they had seen each other since being treated at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.
“It’s great to see them out of the hospital and have out-of-hospital relationship with them, see what they do on a personal basis and what we do on a personal basis and just enjoy it, not the clinical stuff,” mom Meghan Molenaar said. .
Miller’s 2-year-old son Brooks has hypoplastic left heart syndrome and had his first surgery when he was just eight days old. He had a second surgery when he was six months old and a third surgery is scheduled for some time in 2023.
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“It can be stressful at times. There are times when we had to go to the hospital or the ER in the middle of the night, 2 a.m., 3 a.m. We drive into the ER because something is holding saturations and that causes a very big stressor for the family,” Miller said.
Brooks’ surgeon, Dr. Jeremy Ringewald, has guided the family every step of the way to guide them through what can be a difficult journey.
“It’s amazing, special, comforting and heartwarming to see our patients in the real, real world, having fun with their siblings, and really getting to know each other,” says Dr. Jeremy Ringewald of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. †
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The organizers had music, food and games, balloon animals and an artist. It’s a way for patients and their families to visit doctors outside the hospital and thank them for their life-saving care.
“He just loves our family. And we’re very grateful for everything St. Joe’s has done, not just for Brooks, but for other heart fighters in our family,” Miller said.