A Mom's Message to Donors: "We can't thank you enough."

February 16, 2017
Topics: Riley Kid Story

susan blog image
CJ and Kristopher Kauffman

If you’ve given back to Riley by donating, I want you to know this: Your support no matter how big or small is so welcomed by the families that come to Riley. Your donation means that life-saving research can continue research that can/will save lives, and that Riley can provide items and services to make a child’s stay at Riley happier or less scary. 

We can’t thank you enough for all you have done for our family.

My heart belongs to Riley because they have been a real godsend for both of my sons. They comforted us when we were scared and nervous. The knowledge and skills of the doctors and nurses help lower the anxiety level for families and patients. Their love and kindness makes it feel like you are a part of their family.

My husband Michael and I are the parents of two adopted sons. CJ was born on May 5, 1996 a very healthy and happy baby.  He hit all the milestones at all the right times during that first year. When he was 18 months old.  The day care where we took him called us and said that CJ was not feeling well and that his stomach had “hardened” and he would not let anyone touch him.  We rushed him to our pediatrician who then sent us to Riley Hospital. The Riley doctors and staff were wonderful. We were informed of every test and procedure that they were going to do on CJ and were supported throughout our entire time we were at Riley.  

What they found was that CJ had a two-pound lymphangioma, which is a large gel filled sack in his abdomen that had solidified.  We went to Riley on a Friday night and he was scheduled to have surgery on Saturday morning. On Friday night while waiting for the surgery our son’s nurse came in, and stayed with us until we understood every test and until we were calm. The surgery went well and fortunately none of his vital organs were caught in this sac so it came out in one large piece and nothing else had to be removed or repaired. We can’t thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Riley enough for the great care our son received. CJ is now 20 years old and doing great thanks to the wonderful care he received at Riley Hospital.

Our other son Kristopher was born in November 2011 to a birth mother who drank, smoked and did not have good nutrition during her pregnancy. He was born three weeks prematurely with several medical issues: he has overall muscle weakness, a vision issue called Congenital Nystagmus and he was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. 

The first time we brought Kristopher to Riley he needed surgery on one of his feet. Later, we saw doctors to discuss whether we should do anything to address his small stature. (At 14 years old he is only 86 pounds.) We have also been grateful to Riley for their help with his vision issues. Unfortunately there is not much to be done for the nyastagmus, but Dr. Haider performed surgery on the muscles in his eye last September to help address double vision problems.

Today, Kristopher still struggles physically and developmentally but has made great strides. Several of his teachers have commented that they have never seen Kristopher have a “bad” day. He has a real fighting spirit and never gives up. Our lives are much richer because of him.

Riley has very knowledgeable staff, even down to the staff who make sure the facilities are clean and in working order. Riley Hospital is always researching new ways to help children who are sick and in need.  Everyone truly cares about every family that walks through the doors no matter if they have a life-threatening illness or a simple procedure. 

Every patient and family member feels safe and loved at Riley. It is a place that gives families hope.

Susan Kauffman

Susan Kauffman and her husband Michael are the parents of two boys, Kristopher and CJ, both of whom have received treatment at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. The Kauffman family lives in Monticello, Ind.

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