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Finding Comfort During the Worst of Times

By Kristy, a Children’s National Hospital parent
150 Years Stronger Patient Story  Kristy

My son Mason was 12 weeks old when he had open heart surgery at Children’s National Hospital to repair his congenital heart condition, called Tetralogy of Fallot. It’s a rare heart defect that consists of four abnormalities.

Chief cardiac surgeon Dr. Richard Jonas was so detailed. Before the surgery, he discovered that Mason had an additional congenital abnormality — he had only one coronary artery and it was not in the right place. The outcome of the surgery could have been very different if Dr. Jonas had not noticed that in advance.

We didn’t know if Mason would survive. I cried about everything. I had lost my first baby soon after birth. Children’s National staff helped me stay calm. Child Life specialist Judy Ross explained to my 7-year-old daughter what was happening. Little things meant a lot, such as when the concierge services coordinator, Nikki Scurlock, brought me new clothes when I realized I had not packed enough.

There were big things, too. My parents live in Alabama and wanted to help during the surgery, but travel was too expensive. Nikki made arrangements for them to fly here and stay in a hotel. The hospital covered the expense through donations. Wow. That meant my mom was at my side and my dad could care for our oldest child at home. My husband had a new job and could not be there all the time.

During our scariest times, someone at Children’s National always provided comfort. Mason is now 10 and has only happy memories of the hospital. Everyone who works there really wants to be there. Their hearts are in it—that’s for sure.