Sammy's Story

Rosie and Craig Carden have a good feeling about the New Year when they look at their tenacious infant son, Sammy, who was born with an extremely rare, life-threatening heart condition. After receiving a grave prognosis from another hospital, they searched all over the country for the right hospital.

Their research led them to All Children's Hospital, where cardiologist Dr. Kathryn Nardell gave Sammy's parents hope by correctly diagnosing his complex heart problem prior to his birth. Dr. Nardell spent hours with them, laying out the course of action involving a series of three surgeries Sammy would undergo. From that first visit, the Cardens were sold on a hospital and couldn't believe this kind of facility was only two miles from home.

Sammy, nicknamed Nails because he's "tough as nails," underwent his first surgery at just a week of age. Then came his second operation, a harrowing 10-hour ordeal in which Sammy suddenly seemed to be slipping away. The team of talented All Children's cardiovascular physicians and nurses - led by surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs - refused to give up on him. And Sammy wouldn't quit, either. Sammy wasn't breathing and it seemed like all hope was lost. At that point, Rosie recalls one of the nurses saying, "Come on, take a breath, buddy!" And something amazing happened. Sammy inhaled - a big, deep breath, all on his own.

For Dr. Jacobs, saving Sammy represented a true team effort in the face of a most challenging set of circumstances.

"What really saved Sammy is that there is so much depth in that program at all levels: the combination of cardiology, cardiac surgery, anesthesia, critical care and nursing. To get Sammy to live required excellence in at least those five areas. That combination of excellence is what really pulled this kid through this life-threatening emergency. A weakness in any one of those areas - and Sammy would not be here today."

"This place is not a hospital to me - it is home," Rosie says. "And these people are my family. It's not just the doctors. It's every single nurse that's in the CVICU, all the nurse techs. It's speech therapy. It's physical therapy. My child has not had any developmental delays. He's been in the hospital four months out of the seven months of his life and he doesn't have any physical or mental delays. And he was given CPR for 35 minutes here. He's a miracle. And he's a miracle because of these people."

Sammy will usher in the New Year with his third heart surgery with All Children's Hospital. And judging by how he's done so far, tough baby Sammy is going to nail it.