My Doernbecher Story

Max's Story - Doernbecher Children's Hospital

Max's Story

Our son Max was a normal, healthy, active, 14-year-old - a straight-A student who enjoyed fencing, rock climbing and swimming. Then one night at home, he collapsed in the bathroom. His heart wasn’t beating. He wasn’t breathing. He was in cardiac arrest. That’s the night we learned how lucky we are to have OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and its top-notch Pediatric Emergency Department in our community.

Within minutes we were all in the car rushing to OHSU, right behind the ambulance. Doernbecher doctors David Spiro, M.D., M.P.H., and Alan Graham, M.D., and an emergency medical team were waiting for Max when we arrived. We were all allowed in with Max and were at his bedside while the Doernbecher team doctors worked so quickly and so expertly. It was apparent that whatever Max needed to save his life was there in that emergency room. And the whole time we were treated like an important part of the team working to save Max’s life. We can’t tell you how much that meant to us.

With his heart rhythm stabilized but still in critical condition, Max moved to the pediatric intensive care unit for what would turn out to be a long stay at Doernbecher.

Throughout our stay, everyone was kind and thoroughly professional. Max’s physicians always made sure all our questions and concerns were addressed. Just as the doctors and nurses honed in on Max’s needs, they honed in on our need for honest communication about his prognosis. Doernbecher’s wonderful Child Life specialist Cindy Barshay was there to help our other son, 10-year-old Nico, adjust to visiting his very ill big brother.

At last Max regained consciousness and eventually began to rebuild his life. He still has challenges to overcome but he refuses to feel defeated or sorry for himself. Every day we are grateful we still have Max. And every day we think about Doernbecher and what it has meant for our family.

More about Doernbecher's Pediatric Cardiology Program

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