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Bill’s story

When a routine heart surgery turned critical, Bill Lampe trusted Mercy to provide life-saving care when he needed it the most.

You know someone like Bill Lampe. Married for 38 years to his high school sweetheart, Bill was in excellent health. A father of four, he relished spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

In 2020, Bill was scheduled for elective heart surgery to fix an enlarged aorta. Normally, this surgery takes around six hours and has a week-long recovery, but unfortunately, Bill’s surgery turned into a critical situation that included a six-week hospital stay.

Dr. Michael Plisco remembered Bill and his unusual case. “Bill’s case was very uncommon and required emergent care from our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) team. He had a rough course and there were many uneasy days for the family. It takes cases like this to remind me why we push to do all we can for our patients.”

After Bill was released from the ICU, he spent another three weeks at Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital St. Louis. Although it took Bill almost a full year to recover from his experience and surgery, he is now home and feels great. He even got to share a grand milestone with Dr. Plisco and his team – one of life’s proudest “dad” moments, his daughter’s wedding; Bill walked his daughter down the aisle in the early summer of 2021.

“I’ve been told that given everything I went through, I shouldn’t be here, but Mercy was the healing hand of Jesus for me,” said Bill.  “Thanks to my team, I hope to have many more ‘dad’ and ‘granddad’ moments throughout my life.”

By donating to Mercy Health Foundation, you can help more patients like Bill experience more milestone moments with their loved ones.

Nicole’s story

Nicole Fuehne and her family thank Mercy for the compassionate care and healing she received after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Being a mother to an infant can be stressful. Being a mother to a six-month-old and finding a lump in your breast can be downright terrifying.

When her youngest daughter was barely crawling, Nicole embarked on an unchosen journey: battling an aggressive form of breast cancer that would need immediate treatment.

“I was terrified,” Nicole recalled. “As a mom working outside the home with three young children, and a husband who felt helpless, Mercy and my medical team became my saving grace. The staff took charge and guided us through an almost two-year battle including chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and multiple reconstructive surgeries.”

Nicole is now three years cancer free. She and her family are grateful for the many compassionate caregivers who walked with them through the entire journey: diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Nicole still stays in contact with the medical team who were her partners in this journey.

"Because of the outstanding care and support I received at Mercy, I will be able to be see Grace, Jackson and Piper’s milestone events. I have been blessed with a second chance at life, and I plan to make the most of each moment,” said Nicole.

By donating to Mercy Health Foundation, you can help more patients like Nicole experience more milestone moments with their loved ones.

John John’s story

A whole new world was unlocked for John John Valitutto and his mother, Kathleen. Thanks to the care team at Mercy Kids Therapy and Development Center, John John is conquering the challenges of an autism diagnosis like a true champion.

At the age of six, John Valitutto, or John John as his family calls him, received a diagnosis of autism. At the time of the diagnosis, John John’s father was deployed overseas, leaving Kathleen Valitutto, John John’s mother, to explore treatment options by herself.   She was nervous, alone and didn’t know where to turn.

“I knew what autism was, but I didn’t know how it would relate to my family,” recalls Kathleen. “When we received John John’s diagnosis, I was overwhelmed and scared, but when we walked through the doors of Mercy, it was like a whole world was opening for us. The doctors and nurses at Mercy showed me how to relate to my own child.”

A specialized team consisting of Dr. John Mantovani, along with many nurses and therapists, surrounded Kathleen and she knew she was going to have the support she would need to help her son. Dr. Mantovani and his team helped John John and Kathleen explore and understand the world of autism through the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), which uses play therapy and activities to encourage language, social and cognitive skills.

During this treatment, John John began to learn how to communicate using sign language.  This gave him the ability to tell his mom, dad and teachers his likes, wants and needs. He is also beginning to verbally communicate, something Kathleen never thought would be possible.

“Before coming to Mercy, all I could think about were the things that we wouldn’t get to do. Now I know that there is so much that we can do. And we will,” said Kathleen.

John John is now attending school and interacting with his family and peers thanks to the life changing therapies he received at Mercy.  By donating to Mercy Health Foundation, you can help more children like John John reach their full potential.

Erika’s story

A rare pregnancy complication had first-time mom, Erika, and her baby, Saylor, both fighting for their lives. Now Erika begins a different battle: conquering breast cancer with Mercy at her side.

A first-time expectant mother, Erika was experiencing heartburn that just wouldn’t go away. Thinking her heartburn was likely a normal side effect of pregnancy, Erika’s husband Jason convinced her to call her OB/GYN. To be on the safe side, Erika’s doctor advised the couple to go to the Emergency Room where Erika and her baby could be checked out.

Erika’s vitals were taken in the ER and the doctors and nurses quickly sprang into action; Erika was in cardiac arrest and both she and her baby were in danger.

By the grace of God, Erika’s own OB/GYN, Dr. Kayci Lewis, happened to be at the hospital that afternoon giving her daughter a tour of the facilities. Dr. Lewis was able to quickly respond to Erika’s situation. She informed the couple that Erika was suffering from a rare syndrome called HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count). Dr. Lewis would need to perform an emergency C-section to save Erika and her unborn baby.

Little Saylor came into the world at 29 weeks, weighing just 1 pound, 15 ounces. She’d need assistance breathing, a blood transfusion and a PICC line to deliver fluids and medication intravenously. She was taken to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) to begin her fight for life, while new mother Erika was also fighting for hers.

Two months later, the family was reunited; Erika was fully recovered and little Saylor was strong enough to go home. Today, Saylor is a healthy, energetic three-year-old, who loves going to school and playing with her cousins.

But another fight has begun. Erika is now battling breast cancer at Mercy’s Coletta Cancer Center, with Dr. Jordan Morton leading her recovery team. She’s undergone 20 weeks of chemotherapy, two and a half months of radiation and multiple preventive and reconstructive surgeries. Erika is on the road to recovery and looking forward to chasing Saylor around the park for many more years.

“Mercy has been with me for some major life events, and I had great experiences. I know everything I went through was for a reason, and I am looking forward to being able to give back and encourage patients in a personal way.”

Erika and Saylor know how critical it is to have quality health care close to home. The care they received at Mercy saved their lives. By donating to Mercy Health Foundation, you can help more women and infants receive care when and where it is needed most.

The Shafers' story

A “perfect storm” lead David Shafer and his family to Mercy’s ER after he experienced a life-threatening emergency during a road trip.

“It was the perfect storm that night,” recalled Dawn Shafer. Along with her husband David and her grandson, the Shafers were traveling from Texas to Indiana after the passing of David’s mother. The family was caught in the middle of a Southwest Missouri thunderstorm on I-44 when David became very ill.

We often joke about the technical prowess of kids these days, but in this moment, it was no laughing matter—their grandson searched Google for the closest hospital. The search revealed that Mercy Hospital Lebanon was nine miles away. The Shafers made a beeline toward the hospital. When the family arrived at the ER that stormy night, David was in respiratory failure with AFIB and pneumonia. The compassionate caregivers in the ER quickly went to work, diagnosing David’s condition and coordinating his care and treatment. Everyone the Shafers encountered during their detour in Lebanon left a positive impact on their family. “We’ve never experienced such professional courtesy,” they said, “and even the food was fabulous!”

The Shafers were grateful for the assistance they received with David’s prescriptions. And Dawn was able to focus her complete attention on David’s recovery knowing Mercy’s security officers were keeping a watchful eye on the trailer and motorcycle they had to leave unattended on the parking lot while David was hospitalized. “I was never in doubt with Mercy,” said Dawn. “I have no doubt in my mind that our new friends at Mercy Hospital Lebanon saved David’s life.”

“I think the entire community of Lebanon needs to know how blessed they are to have Mercy Hospital Lebanon in their community,” Dawn concluded. “Way to go, Lebanon! You were there for us and we are so grateful.”

By donating to Mercy Health Foundation, you can ensure more patients like David have access to quality health care no matter where they are on their journey.

Casey’s story

An unsuccessful cataract surgery in his teens left Casey Brown with failing vision and diminished hope. An advanced new procedure restored Casey’s eyesight and his dreams for a brighter future.

After an unsuccessful cataract surgery at the age of 15, Casey Brown’s vision continued to deteriorate, and he began to lose hope.

Fearful his family couldn’t afford additional treatments and more surgeries, Casey learned to adapt to his vision loss. He used the zoom feature on his cell phone as a magnifying glass, and memorized the eye chart at the doctor’s office to hide his worsening eyesight.

His vision became so impaired that Casey was forced to put his education on hold. He began teaching himself to read and write braille, convinced that he would completely lose his ability to see.

By the grace of God, and with help from his aunt in Missouri, Casey was referred to Dr. Shachar Tauber, an ophthalmologist with Mercy Hospital Springfield. Dr. Tauber shared the good news with Casey and his aunt: Casey’s vision could be restored. And Casey would be the first patient of Dr. Tauber’s to undergo a new surgical procedure, called cross-linking.

The process of bringing cross- linking technology to Springfield began with a gift from a former patient of Dr. Tauber’s. Bolstered by donations from other grateful patients, providers and community members, along with funds raised from Mercy Health Foundation’s Colors of Hope Gala, Mercy Surgery Center was able to procure the cross-linking equipment.

Casey underwent cross-linking surgery on his left eye in June 2020, and the impact on his life has been transformational. Casey began driving again. He returned to college, majoring in political science with a concentration in pre-law. His ultimate goal is to serve as a senator in his home state of Georgia, and to inspire others by becoming a motivational speaker.

By donating to Mercy Health Foundation, you can ensure more patients like Casey have access to specialized procedures and state of the art health care when they need it most.

Stories like these keep us moving forward. When we read these inspirational words of gratitude from our patients and their families, we know in our hearts there is good all around us. When you give to Mercy Health Foundation, you join our mission in bringing more hope and healing to those we serve.

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Have you been impacted by compassionate care at Mercy and want to say thanks?

Together we can touch more lives. Save more lives. And improve more lives.

Contact Mercy Health Foundation

Mercy Health Foundation
14528 S. Outer 40, Suite 100 
Chesterfield, MO 63017

Mercy Health Foundation

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