In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

December 29, 2016

Anonymous Gifts Make Holiday in the Hospital a Little Merrier

By In the Loop

Mayo Clinic staff experience the joy of giving, of closets full of gifts for young patients.

Here at In the Loop, we love to tell stories of giving, particularly around the holidays. Stories of Mayo Clinic staff going the extra mile for patients, of work units banding together for a cause, of former patients doing what they can to help others facing what they've been through before. We're heartened by pictures that show people experiencing the joy of giving, of closets full of gifts for young patients.

So we were particularly moved when we read an account this week that speaks to the difference these acts of kindness can make to those who find themselves in the hospital over the holidays. In this case, the difference they made to one particular young boy and his mom, who happens to be managing editor and columnist for the Albert Lea Tribune.

Sarah Stultz starts her tale with a touch of salt. "I felt the tears begin to roll down my cheeks as I sat in the passenger seat of a Gold Cross ambulance Saturday evening," she writes. She and her son, Landon, were on their way to the Saint Marys campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital – Rochester on Dec. 24. Her son had suffered unexpected seizures, and "doctors had recommended [she] have him monitored for the night."

"Merry Christmas, right?" she writes.

"I felt helpless but hoped we could receive some answers about what might have triggered the new seizures," she continues. They learned that they would be "spending at least Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in the hospital."

After they checked in at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, she and Landon found their way to a playroom. Soon they heard carolers in the hall. When the singers made their way to the playroom, "Landon and a few other children playing stopped what they were doing and walked over to the carolers," Stultz writes. "I felt another tear slide down my cheek."

The carolers soon continued on wassailing through the halls of the hospital, but that wasn't the only moment of holiday magic Landon and his mom would experience.

"The next morning, when we woke up, we discovered someone had left a Beanie Baby of Sven, the reindeer from 'Frozen,' at the foot of Landon’s bed," Stultz writes. "Shortly after, a nurse walked in carrying more gifts." This time, the gifts (and even a little something for the parents) came from a family who’d found themselves in a similar circumstance in the past and knew what a difference even a small gift could make to a child’s spirits.

The next morning, there was a holiday breakfast. And more gifts. And more gratitude.

"Though we were unable to be at home for our traditional Christmas, my heart swelled with gratitude for all of those who went out of their way to make our Christmas special," Stultz writes. "I was grateful to be in a place that could spread that Christmas cheer, and I was grateful — no matter the circumstances — that we were together."

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Tags: Employee Stories, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Patient Stories

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