“It’s a really thick book, but we’re going to be here awhile,” says Devin on reading aloud to his 1-week-old son, Donovan. “He gets calmer when I read to him and kids’ books don’t have many words,” says the dad whose past week has been as adventurous as the characters in the Tom Clancy novel he chose from the hospital’s library.
Devin recounts the plot twist that led to him sitting next to his newborn son in St. Petersburg while his wife and newborn daughter rest 16 hours away in Ohio. Knowing that Donovan needed life-saving congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) surgery shortly following birth, Devin and his wife, Kelly, had planned on delivering Donovan and his twin sister, Kayla, in St. Petersburg. But the twins had other plans. They arrived before the family could leave Ohio. With 2-minutes-younger sister Kayla needing to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit in Akron with her mom, Devin kissed his wife and children goodbye and watched as Stacey Stone, M.D., from the Center for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia team at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital loaded Donovan into a waiting medical transport jet. With no room for him in the tiny plane packed with all the equipment needed to keep Donovan breathing, Devin made the drive to St. Petersburg like one of Clancy’s characters racing to help save the day.
“I haven’t gotten to hold either one of them yet,” Devin says, looking at his tiny son. Donovan’s too fragile following the surgery. “But we got the opportunity to save our son. He’s safe. He’s sound. And he’s getting as strong as an ox.” Devin and Kelly video chat daily and can’t wait for the twins to reunite and meet their older brothers.
Until then, Devin reads aloud to the tiniest audience. Illuminated by monitors displaying every aspect of his son’s health, Devin recalls, “My dad and I read Tom Clancy novels together when I was young, although I don’t think Donovan’s going to remember this one much.”
But this story is just at the beginning.
This is the 100th installment of Moments, a series on tiny scenes that tell the larger story of care and compassion at the hospital. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Moments to read more. The Kishinchand Chellaram Foundation supports the Center for CDH and research within the program.