Catherine and Her Granddaughter Molly

In March 2011, Catherine was excited about the impending birth of her first grandchild, Molly. Just before she was born, doctors discovered Molly had Down syndrome and a hole in her heart.

catherine and molly The condition, known as complete atrioventricular canal defect (CAVC), is a severe congenital heart defect. While a normal heart has four distinct chambers that work together to process and deliver blood to the body, in children with CAVC, there’s a hole where the chambers intersect — affecting blood flow throughout the entire body.

Her family knew Molly needed specialized care and insisted she be transferred to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Marking the big moments — and the small

Catherine was worried about her first grandchild’s fragile condition. But she found comfort knowing Molly was in one of the nation’s top-ranked newborn intensive care units and being treated by world-renowned cardiac and neonatal doctors.

The “little things” made all the difference for Catherine, Molly and their family during Molly’s 24-day stay in CHOP’s Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU). They were encouraged by the upbeat atmosphere and positive attitude of the staff — even during trying times.

The days after Molly’s admission to CHOP were tumultuous as her condition fluctuated and doctors discussed treatment plans with Molly’s family.

With so many big decisions underway, one small thing that was overlooked is a standard for many new parents — taking their child’s hand and foot prints.

Sensitive to the situation, a child life specialist noticed this was upsetting to Molly’s mom, so she made arrangements for Molly’s hand and foot prints to be made once she left the N/IICU.

Kindness multiplied

CHOP’s Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy came through again near Molly’s discharge. Her family was hoping to take Molly home on Easter Sunday — which was also her mom’s birthday. But the date of Molly’s release was delayed. Knowing that spending a birthday at the hospital — and on a holiday — would be disheartening for Molly’s mom, one of the child life specialists made a “Happy Birthday” sign and sent it to her.

The small gesture of kindness made a huge impact on Molly’s family. It was indicative of how exceptionally special the Child Life Department is, Catherine says.

Molly’s grandmother was touched to see her own daughter feel such joy as a new mother. Catherine, her husband Dennis, and the entire family are forever grateful to CHOP and the exceptional team in the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy.