Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilkinson Photography: (From left to right) Kaine, Thomas, Maddie and Brody have given their 1st grade classroom the nickname “Miracle Class.”
The first grade class at St. Joseph School has become locally famous in the rural, one-stoplight village of Pewamo.
It’s the classroom of seven-year-old Thomas Kramer, who had his first of three open heart surgeries at three days old. There’s Brody Smith, who began fighting leukemia just as he was learning to talk. Kaine Simon underwent an hours- long surgery on his skull at five months old. And Madeline George’s biggest gift came two days after her first birthday: a new heart.
Their stories are what have earned Mrs. Connie Warczinsky’s classroom in this small town outside of Lansing an affectionate nickname: “The miracle class.”
Like many families, the reality of how fortunate we are to live near one of the country’s top ranked children’s hospitals was not something we ever really thought about. That all changed when Danno came into our lives.
During a routine ultrasound while I was pregnant with twins last year, the doctor discovered that the heart of one of the twins was not developing properly. We learned even before he was born that our son, Daniel (eventually nicknamed Danno after we all fell in love with our 2-year-old’s attempts to pronounce his baby brother’s name) had a congenital heart defect. The exact diagnosis was double outlet right ventricle with pulmonary atresia and a large ventricular septal defect. It’s a mouthful, and we were frightened, but knew we were in good hands at University of Michigan.
In early October, I was admitted to U-M’s Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital because my twin boys were beginning to show signs of distress. The doctors decided to deliver them on October 27 at 34 weeks gestational age.
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital pediatric cardiologist Dr. Ronald Grifka and Ivan Applin reunite after Ivan’s heart procedure at Mott earlier this year.
As momentum builds for Saturday’s football game between the twelvth-ranked Wolverines and the No.8 Buckeyes, 11-year-old Ivan Applin is preparing to watch the historical rivalry unfold for the first time in the stands.
The young Buckeyes fan, who had a heart procedure at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan this summer, made national headlines after he asked his now famous question: Would the U-M doctor would make his heart love Michigan instead of Ohio State?
A week after Ivan’s 11th birthday, the University of Michigan Health System is sending him and three family members to the Big House to see the rivals face off on the field.
(From back to front) Bobby; Mia, 4; Anna May, 7; Ella, 6; Wendy and Nina, 19. The family lived in a room at the Ronald McDonald House for 300 days during Mia’s treatment at Mott.
At seven days old, Mia Wilson was airlifted to Ann Arbor for what doctors said was her last hope in fighting a serious heart condition.
Mia’s parents Wendy and Bobby, along with their three other daughters then ages 17 months, three and 14, also made the 196-mile trek from their home in Akron, Ohio to University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, a world leader in congenital heart disease.
“We packed for three days,” Wendy recalls. “Never in a million years did we think we’d be here for four seasons.”
After receiving care at Mott’s Congenital Heart Center, Buckeye fan Ivan Applin, 10, may have just a little room for Michigan in his heart.
As pediatric cardiologist Dr. Ronald Grifka showed 10-year-old Ivan Applin the wire-framed device that would be used to fix the holes in his heart, the Toledo fourth grader had just one burning concern.
“He asked if the Michigan doctors were going to make his heart love University of Michigan instead of Ohio State,” his mother Jennifer laughs.
No, he would wake up loving the Buckeyes just as much as he ever did, Dr. Grifka, assured him. The procedure would also mean he could better enjoy his favorite activities, like soccer, for many more years to come.
NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute the University of Michigan Health System as the original creator and include a link to this article.