Ask 14-year-old Noah what his favorite day of the year is, and you might get an unusual response. It’s not Christmas or his birthday or even the last day of school before summer vacation. It’s the final day of the Courage Classic bicycling tour, an annual fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Every year, Noah hands out medals at the finish line, thanking riders for their support of the hospital that he credits with saving his life. It is a tradition that has endured for seven years and counting.
“He has a great appreciation for the special gift of life he was given,” said his mom, Melissa.
‘They weren’t very hopeful’
Melissa had a picture-perfect pregnancy with Noah, but within an hour of his birth, her newborn baby began to turn blue. Noah was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where doctors discovered that his lungs had collapsed. They transferred Noah to another local hospital for further tests.
Melissa described how difficult it was to see her first-born child in the NICU, not knowing what was wrong or if he was going to survive. Doctors told her to expect the worst.
“He had tubes coming out of him, and he had lost quite a bit of weight,” said Melissa. “They weren’t very hopeful that he was going to make it.”
Yet one neonatologist told Noah’s parents that it was too soon to give up. He referred them to Children’s Colorado, where doctors would be better equipped to diagnose and treat their son. It turned out to be a life-saving decision.
Within 20 minutes of arriving at Children’s Colorado, Noah was given a proper diagnosis. Doctors discovered that he had a congenital heart defect in which the veins between the heart and lungs are connected to the wrong heart chamber.
Doctors immediately punctured a hole in the wall of Noah’s heart, a temporary fix until surgery could be performed. For the first time since their son had been born, Noah’s parents started to feel hopeful.
A Picture of Health
When Noah was 18 days old, pediatric cardiologists at the Children’s Colorado Heart Institute performed open heart surgery to permanently repair his heart defect. Within weeks, Noah was able to come home with his parents in time for Christmas. He was not even 3 months old, but he was on the road to recovery. Noah was going to live.
Today, Noah is a caring, fun-loving, intelligent 13-year-old. He is an accomplished violinist and a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Although he doesn't remember his surgery, he was raised hearing stories of his time at Children’s Colorado and seeing how passionate his family is about the hospital.
“Today Noah is the picture of health,” said Melissa. “Sometimes I almost forget what his start in life was. Every now and then I’ll notice his scar and think about how far he’s come. We have such heartfelt thanks for the hospital.”