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Denver Health Success Stories

From patients and professional staff to a new pet therapy program handler, those closest to Denver Health share details from their experiences with our hospital.

A Rocking Horse, a Broken Elbow and a Happy Memory

A Boy and His Pillow Pet Recover from SurgeryWhen rambunctious 5-year-old Jack Dondelinger took his rocking horse for a rough ride, he found himself spending the first weekend in December at Denver Health waiting for surgery to repair a severely broken elbow. His dad, Josh, shares his story of how a simple gesture, that of giving a scared little boy the penguin pillow pet he was hoping Santa would bring, could alleviate a child’s fear and keep the holiday magic alive. Read this note from Josh Dondelinger, Jack’s dad, and remember it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest impact.

"I am father of 4 beautiful children, the most rambunctious of them being my youngest Jack. Knowing it was only a matter of time, when I got the call at work telling me that he had broken his arm I didn't completely freak out. I say completely because as a dad it still hard to feel so helpless.

From the beginning of our ordeal the staff at DH made my lil guy feel as good as possible. Soon after getting a room a nice lady brought him a stuffed moose named "Tommy", and a wonderful split page book that was the source of many laughs in the hours to come. When the dreaded S word was mentioned I was stunned! With kids ranging from 5 to 18, I had never dealt with surgery. Needless to say I was surprised and confused, but from the very beginning every single person in this difficult process was amazing. From the most personable surgeon I could hope for to the angels that others call nurses. The women that cared for my son before and after surgery treated him as if he was their own! One nurse said with such sincere conviction that he was the cutest boy she'd ever seen. This same angel, trying to comfort a very confused Jack, brought him the one toy he wanted more than any other for Christmas; a Pillow Pet that was donated by the Starlight Foundation (one I will soon be more involved with). In fact it was the Penguin, the very one I had in my Amazon cart ready to be shipped. She explained that Santa sent it early since he was being so brave. Tell me that's not Holiday magic!

The next thing I know there are nurses from other departments coming to see my brave little boy. One brought another stuffed friend. They were all so sweet and doting. These wonderful people made a very scared little boy, and his dad, feel very at ease and comforted knowing he was in good hands. I cannot thank each and every one of them enough, you should be quite proud. But I know you will continue to do your job, quietly, without spotlights or fanfare. Just know that one family holds you all in a special place in our hearts this Holiday season and always."