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November 22, 2021

Saying thanks with a Thanksgiving meal

IU Health Arnett Hospital

Saying thanks with a Thanksgiving meal

How do you say thank you for saving a child’s life? One father gives thanks by providing Thanksgiving dinner every year for those who saved his daughter, Hannah.

On March 17, 2014, Jeff Waldon brought his daughter to the emergency department because she was struggling to breathe. She had visited the hospital a few days prior believing she had food poisoning or the stomach flu. When they tried to intubate her, she coded. She was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) where she coded twice more. For 48 hours she was in a medically induced coma. She was just 18.

Her heart, lungs, kidneys and intestines were all shutting down. Waldon remembers giving consent for exploratory abominable surgery even though he was warned the chances of her survival were slim. He ran into Mark Buono, MD, PhD, anesthesiology, in the hall who was sure it was her heart. His CPR skills saved her once again.

“I am not sure I understood what ICU meant prior to our experience,” shared Waldon. “We are blessed that we can be a success story.”

Waldon son and daughter

Waldon credits the many physicians and specialist who all had a hand in saving his daughter: Muhammad Ali, MD, FCCP, pulmonary diseases and critical care, Sirumugal Saravanan, MD, cardiology, Thomas Meyer, MD infectious disease, Chris Mansfield, MD, hospitalist, Rexanna Tatlock, MS, AGPCNP-BC, CCRN, cardiology, Gary Dupré, MD, hospitalist and Buono. The list is long. It was a team effort.

“I know we met every team member on that floor – they were all so amazing,” explained Waldon. “We know that many have moved on but providing a meal of thanks for what we received that day is something we will continue to do as long as I am breathing.”

The meal is like most traditional Thanksgiving meals, deep-friend turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, Texas Roadhouse rolls and pies. The Waldon family brings enough for the emergency department, the ICU and progressive care units. The teams that all had a hand in saving his daughter’s life.

His daughter Hannah does not remember much about that time. She does recall that Dr. Dupré was not one of her favorites because of his very early morning cheerful greetings.

“God has been good to me. I am often asked if that was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. It was, but we were blessed to get our daughter back,” shared Waldon.

Today, his healthy 26-year-old daughter is learning to run the family business, Mary Lou Donuts.

Jeff Waldon and daughter

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