Richard L Loves Thomas the Tank Engine

Baby Richard Jr. Born With a Heart Defect, Bounced Back From Surgery with Therapy and Compassionate Care

Eight-month-old Richard La Grippo, Jr. has been through three surgeries in five months.

As long as Richard continues to make progress through his therapy sessions at Children’s Specialized Hospital, his mom Michelle and Dad Richard expect he will meet his infant-toddler developmental milestones in the next two years.

The five-member La Grippo family lives in Avenel, but as former New Yorkers, Mrs. La Grippo and her husband decided to continue their health care with their physicians in New York. Mrs. La Grippo said she gave birth to Richard in a New York hospital to be close to family there. Richard was born five weeks prematurely on July 26, 2012 with a heart defect known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a form of dysrhythmia.

In November 2012 a cardiac surgeon in Long Island performed surgery to repair a hole in Richard’s heart. Following the surgery, baby Richard was given a trascheotomy and a ventilator, enduring another surgical procedure. The La Grippos were then referred to Children’s Specialized for rehabilitation. On December 20, 2012 Richard was admitted to PSE&G Children’s Specialized in New Brunswick for rehabilitation to help increase his lung strength and to help wean him from the hospital ventilator to a portable ventilator.

baby richard playing with toy in crib

In addition, Children’s Specialized is providing parent education and feeding goals for Richard. In March a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) was placed in Richard’s abdomen to help with feeding. A day after the surgical G-tube procedure, Richard survived a “code blue” emergency (respiratory failure) in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Unit at Bristol-Myers Squibb Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Mrs. La Grippo credits the hospital with saving her son’s life.

“What is most impressive about Children’s Specialized Hospital is the high level of comprehensive services and the caring staff. There are a lot of people there dedicated to my son’s care – physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, recreational therapists and nutritional specialists – and they work with Richard at his pace, they don’t push him,” says Mrs. La Grippo. “If we didn’t bring Richard to Children’s Specialized it’s my belief that he wouldn’t have come as far as he has.”

Mrs. La Grippo says she and her family look forward to the day when Richard can return home. He is expected to be discharged from Children’s Specialized on May 27, 2013. “I want him to come back stronger than ever. He’s a fighter. Having Children’s Specialized Hospital at our side is making a difference every step of the way.”