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A little boy with a song in his heart

Utah Caring Stories

(ABC4 NEWS – Salt Lake City, UT) Gerold had dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart that decreased the blood flow in his body. His Mom, Amanda, explains. “It was irreversible. It was getting worse. He ended up on what’s called a Berlin Heart that’s an external heart pumping his blood for him. He was on that for 7 months, which is the longest they’ve ever had somebody on it at Primary’s.”

Gerold got a heart transplant at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah in March. He’s still at the hospital recovering. I got to meet him at the music therapy room.

It is clear that 3-year-old Gerold loves the music therapy room and the people that run it. He gave me “knuckles” and then brought me over to the area to get fruit shaped shakers. He got a banana and gave me an apple. Music therapist Spencer went to work and the next thing I know we are all singing “apples and bananas” together.

Gerold and his family have been through a lot. I was impressed with how happy he was. Amanda told me; “Music makes him happier than anything else. If there is a song playing he’s dancing. Even when he was in the ICU, very sedated right after his transplant, we put on the troll’s movie, and there is one little clip that come on. He’s half asleep and he couldn’t stop himself from doing a little shimmy in his bed. If it’s on, he is dancing, and he is happy about it.

What is music therapy? I asked Spencer Hardy, a music therapist at Primary Children’s Hospital. He said; “It’s really rooted in addressing the needs of an individual through music, it’s as simple as that. Anything from helping a kid in the hospital having a problem falling asleep. or it could be writing as song with a teenager to help them process a new diagnosis.”

What gives Spencer hope? His answer is inspiring. “Of being able to look at a really challenging situation and still be able to find hope, to be able to find beauty and be able to create joy. I think those are the things we try to do in a children’s hospital. It can be really challenging, but it can be really rewarding too. I always say it is an honor to get to work with these families, because it truly is.”

These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.

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