Sam was born during a big snowstorm in Washington, D.C. His parents, Taryn and Eric, believe it was a metaphor for the flurry of chaos that happened next.
They expected to leave the hospital with their healthy new baby, but their pediatrician heard a heart murmur.
Sam’s parents were terrified to learn that he had a hole in his heart, but a Children’s National Hospital cardiologist reassured them with his confidence. “That’s what I think has been so amazing about Children’s National,” Taryn says. “Every step of the way, every doctor, nurse and staff member we met told us that everything would be okay. And you just somehow know that is true.”
At 2 weeks, Sam went into congestive heart failure. Richard Jonas, M.D., emeritus chief of cardiac surgery, told them he could fix the problem. “Let’s get him into the operating room as quickly as we can,” Dr. Jonas said. “Let’s repair his heart and your family.”
Taryn and Eric tell people that’s exactly what he did. “He healed Sam, but he also healed us,” Taryn says.
The night after surgery, a nurse gave them the peace and comfort to finally sleep, knowing he was safe with the best possible care. They woke the next morning to find a star outside Sam’s room with “rockstar” written on it because he recovered so well. Two days later, Taryn and Eric took him home. Follow-up appointments revealed a perfect repair with no heart murmur.
“Our insurance paid for the surgery, but we’re in debt to Children’s National for life,” Eric says. “That’s how we feel.”
When Sam was 2, the family joined the first Race for Every Child and have returned every year. Taryn and Eric serve as co-chairs for the Race planning committee, and Sam, who plays soccer and runs track and field, is a patient ambassador for the 2023 event. They race to support pediatric research for patients like Sam.
“We wanted to do everything we could to help this amazing hospital who helped us,” Taryn says.