Actor Supports LLU Children's Hospital


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From the Press-Enterprise:

... I went out there and was met by Joanna de Leon (director of the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation). And they said, "How long has it been since you've been in a children's hospital?"

And I said, basically since my birth -- it's been awhile. I didn't remember a lot of it. I wasn't blithe about it, but I thought, "It will be like a children's hospital, probably a little sad. And there will be sick kids." And soon as I walked in, the waterworks started. I didn't expect it.

The first thing I saw was a premature baby who -- I mean, it looked like it was almost the size of an action figure. I almost couldn't understand what I was looking at. And it was surrounded by a few nurses, a few doctors. These enormous humming machines under a bright light ... and I couldn't process what I was seeing, and my eyes welled up and my heart started exploding. And I've got to say for the next two hours that was what I felt. I just felt like that my heart was exploding. ...

I met Dr. (Leonard) Bailey, who performed the first heart transplant for an infant ... and I guess he's maybe retirement age, let's say. And this guy, he was so delighted that I was there, which seemed strange. He said, "Hey, do you want to see something?" And he was like a little kid. He had the energy of a little kid.

He said, "Follow me." So I walked into this room with him, and he handed me this little iPod, nano-sized device that had some wire hanging off of it. And he stepped aside, so that the wire led right into this infant's chest. And I felt this little vibration. He said, "You're having a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You're holding a prototype for an artificial infant heart." That was incredible. Then he proceeded to tell me how much he appreciated my being there. I couldn't speak.

He said, "I'm sorry, I have to run off. I have to fly to Baltimore." He said, "There's a potential donor."

I just thought these people are angels. They live in the margin between life and death. ...

The last story I'll bore you with, Joanna herself told me that there was a new night nurse who was working at the hospital. And she was making her rounds and she saw that there was this nurse typing, and was holding an infant while she was typing with the other hand.

And she said, "Why are you holding the baby? Why don't you put the baby down while you type?"

And she said, "You know, this baby doesn't have long to live. And the nurses on the floor decided that since this is obviously an angel, we're never going to allow its feet to touch the floor." And they didn't.

Well, that just busted me up. ... As I drove out of there - I'm 44, so I was 43 when this happened. A very positive storm had already begun to gather for a multitude of reasons in my life ... I think subconsciously, I've been looking for this place. And this place found me. ... I just felt this was an opportunity to devote myself to something a little more important than getting people to look at me. And if there is some reason to get more people to look at me, this is the place that should benefit. ...


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1680