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'They gave us him back': Family credits Helen DeVos Children's Hospital for saving infant son's life

A West Michigan family credits the hospital for saving their infant son's life.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On January 11, 2011 the new $286 million Helen DeVos Children's Hospital opened. Since then, it has grown to become one of the top 50 Children's Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.

The Helen DeVos Children's Hospital has help save the lives of hundreds of children in West Michigan. Including the Monroe family, whose 3 month old son's life was saved by dedicated staff on New Year's Eve 2015.

"I kind of frantically yelled I have the heart baby and the door flew open they were ready," Holly Monroe said. She rushed her infant son Calvin to Helen DeVos at the urging of her pediatrician. "We got there literally in the nick of time. They did all of these life saving measures. They shocked his heart twice." 

Calvin was born with a heart defect that caused one of his heart valves to malfunction.

"Within in less than 5 minutes of being there he coded. We wouldn't have made it to Ann Arbor, which would be the closest place they would send high risk cases to," Holly explained.

Calvin was put on a newly purchased heart-lung bypass machine to save his life. Helen DeVos had only been open four years, and yet it's presence in West Michigan was already having an impact on families.

"So, we are unbelievably lucky to have Helen DeVos so close," Holly adds especially because Calvin continues to have procedures for his heart, including open heart surgery which he had last year. 

It's one of the reasons why Holly and her husband plan to stay in Grand Rapids, "We just can't leave it now. We've had opportunities to move and I couldn't leave it. I couldn't imagine having to say good bye and start over at another place."

To Holly and her family, Helen Devos Children's Hospital is more than just a hospital, "They're family that we just can't put into words. I love you." 

Holly said the staff accommodates even the littlest things, like allowing Calvin's friend Hobbs to be by his side through every surgery. They even have matching scars to prove it.

Credit: Holly Monroe

Hugging her son Holly said, "They gave us him back, you know."

The Helen DeVos Children's Hospital isn't done growing. They are currently working on adding a pediatric heart transplant program and developing genetics research to help continue the fight against life threatening childhood diseases.

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