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Kristin Stecher and Rushabh Doshi can walk to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford from their home.

“Rushabh went to graduate school at Stanford. We ran in Summer Scamper. We would even take our daughters, Maya and Mira, to drop off essentials for families at Packard Children’s Hospital,” Kristin recalls. “At that time, we never could have imagined that we would be there ourselves.”

Kristin’s third pregnancy was smooth. She had a planned C-section at the same hospital in Redwood City where she delivered both of their girls. She knew what to expect. That was, until the day Avi was born.

“I immediately knew something was wrong. He wasn’t getting enough oxygen. He came out blue,” Kristin recounts of those terrifying first moments. “The doctor said that she could hear his heart murmur audibly without a stethoscope. I had a moment to see him before they took him away. He needed to be transferred to Packard Children’s Hospital.”

The care team didn’t know what was wrong yet, but our hospital would be able to do more testing including an echocardiogram.

“For the first three days, we really didn’t know what was wrong,” says Rushabh. “There was a range of scenarios: he could have a hole, he might need a valve replacement, or worse.”

Finally the diagnosis came: Avi had a premature closure of ductus arteriosus, causing his heart to enlarge, which led to other complications such as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Left untreated, Avi could face significant neurodevelopmental impairment or even death.

“That was a really hard time for our girls as well. We had prepared them for what to expect when baby brother was born. But we had not prepared for this,” says Kristin. “It was hard for me to be away. I was still at the other hospital recovering from the C-section. Our doctor, Jonathan Palma, would talk to us for as long as we needed. We had so many questions and Rush really likes information and understanding, and Dr. Palma was so patient.

After a few days, Maya and Mira were able to come visit our hospital and meet Avi for the first time.

“We had the most amazing nurses. One of the nurses helped our daughter hold Avi,” Kristin says. “She carefully moved all these intricate wires and made them as comfortable as possible so she could have that special moment to hold her baby brother.”

After 10 days, Avi finally graduated from the NICU. The family credits the expertise of their Packard Children’s Hospital team for saving Avi and their family.

“There aren’t that many Level 4 NICUs around—Packard Children’s Hospital is one of the few. That is where the most critical cases go. It’s important to me that people understand that you can’t put these babies anywhere,” Rushabh says. “For me, spending all those nights in the NICU and meeting other families … people come from far away. My hope is being able to support and expand capacity, because it’s critical to have the level of care that Packard provides.”

Care at the hospital extended to Avi’s sisters. The girls could escape the hospital environment by going to the playroom and doing art projects. They even received dolls that were knitted and donated by a group of volunteers.

“It’s not that we needed a doll or a blanket, but it was the idea that somebody took the time and thought of you and your child,” says Kristin. “Donors and supporters made us feel so cared for in our moment of need.”

Before going home, the family was instructed on how to detect signs of cardiac failure. Avi suffered from PPHN for over six months. His cognitive function is still being monitored, but things are looking bright.

“He is super social. He loves baby goats, he loves Lion King, and he loves his sisters. He also loves a good party and will run around the house saying, ‘Party time!’”

Avi will be the life of the party as we gather on June 18! Register to join Avi and our other Summer Scamper Patient Heroes. Sign up to join the party and Scamper for more kids like Avi.