The stress-filled, life-or-death drama of waiting for a new heart still overshadows everything in 5½-year-old Tim Grobart's life. But his dad says the Lombard boy is happy about Saturday's move from the old Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood to his new digs in the state-of-the-art Lurie Children's Hospital downtown.
"He says he'll get more sleep now, and the new TVs have video games built right in and that's how he'll order his food. He'll have a wireless keyboard and mouse," says Jeff Grobart, who adds that Tim is hoping the new flat-screen TV also features more channels than the aged tube model in his old room.
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Tim, whose heart defect was diagnosed when he was just 4 months old, has endured countless procedures and a major surgery, and has been on a waiting list for a heart transplant since March. He moved up on the list after a frightening episode on May 30 when he collapsed in their home and his mother, Christine, performed CPR on the boy to keep him alive as they waited for paramedics to arrive.
As he waited for one of the 20 ambulances transporting all 135 patients one at a time to the new hospital, Grobart says it was comforting to know Tim was one of the last patients moved, as more critical patients traveled first.
"Tim is very, very aware and telling jokes today to anybody who will listen," Grobart says. "He's very excited about the move, and the nice thing about the new hospital is that every room is a private room."
The new room will be much better for the parents, too.
"It really does seem like they designed this new hospital with kids and parents in mind," Grobart says. Instead of sleeping in a chair behind a curtain as the Intensive Care Unit bustled nearby, the dad now will sleep in a pullout bed next to his son in a private room with a closing door and a private bathroom where Grobart can shower without having to leave his son.
"He'll be in the same bed from Day One until discharge," says Grobart, who notes that while the family has been anxious to get a new heart, they realize that transplant should run smoother now that he's in the new hospital. "Everything that he needs will all be on one floor."
The hospital was renamed Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago in recognition of Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie's $100 million gift toward the $855 million project.
The Grobarts, who are also parents to Lou, 8, and 16-month-old Rosie, say they appreciate the state-of-the-art facility and the little creature comforts to go along with their son's care.
"Tim is my hero," Grobart says. "He's such a strong and brave boy."