Dr. Hilton Gottschalk,MD (an orthopedic surgeon at DCMC) and Jessica Heggen Gottschalk are devoted members of the Dell Children’s Trust. Recently Jessica shared their “why” for joining the Trust, and her words perfectly capture the mission and passion of this hospital and what the Trust tries to accomplish both from a clinical and from a parent’s perspective.

Q: Why is your heart in this work – what personally inspires you to give to Dell Children’s?
A: For us, it’s about the care that each child receives at Dell. I feel inspired every day by the work that the doctors, nurses and entire team at Dell does for each and every child that is there. Whether children are there for a follow up, for a surgery, for extended care, for a doctor’s visit, to visit a friend, to volunteer … each child there is having an experience that, in some cases, can be frightening. If our family can give a little to make that experience better, less painful, less scary, quicker, dare-I-say more fun, easier on the child and the parent, easier on the doctors and nurses providing the care … why wouldn’t we? As parents, as compassionate humans, giving to this Trust is one of the best things we can offer to help Dell provide for our community.

Q: How long have you been a member?
A: We have been members for just under a year.

Q: Which grant has impacted you the most OR what does it mean to you to be giving to a granting pool?
A: Our first “Give Dinner” was this last year (May of 2018). I’m embarrassed to say we didn’t really know how far the impact of this Trust reached prior to that “Give Dinner”. We didn’t know what to expect. Sitting there, watching the videos, hearing the stories, listening the the “why” – I think I went through an entire box of tissues! Then, to be able to ask questions and have a say in where the money was going and how it was to be divided … to know that these programs who “asked” for these funds to provide better for the children would, in fact, be able to do so because this group of generous people … this is what it all means. To do better. To be better. To make things better for the children and better for Dell to be able to provide for these children.

Q: Do you have a personal experience to share about Dell Children’s
A: Our daughter, Ella was born in 2012. Shortly before she was 3 months old, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Essentially, her ventricles were filling up with fluid and not draining properly so that was putting intense pressure on her brain. Emergency surgery was performed in Chicago (where we were living at the time) to place a VP shunt to drain the fluid off her brain. 2 months later, we moved back to Austin where Hilton began working at Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics. We had been in Austin less than a week and had not seen the neurosurgeon yet. We noted more swelling on Ella’s head and were immediately referred to Dr. Timothy George – he graciously worked us in on an emergency basis and diagnosed that Ella had a shunt malfunction – another emergency brain surgery was done on our, now, 5 month old daughter. Scary times for a parent when your child is so young and in a hospital having another brain surgery. Hilton provides care as a doctor at Dell, but we were now on the other side – receiving the care. The tables were really turned and we were able to experience the incredible care patients receive at Dell. From the Anesthesiologist, to the Neurosurgeon, to the post care nurses in the recovery area, to the floor nurses, to the volunteers who were there to lift our spirits when we were so scared – every aspect of everything we felt all worked together in a perfect harmony to help us heal. I remember nurses checking on Ella and also checking on us. I remember the volunteers who came by multiple times a day letting us pick out books and toys for Ella and her brother. I remember the doctors talking to us with empathy, concern and confidence. I remember being scared, but I remember the kindness of each person we encountered. The care we received at Dell was absolutely incredible and unmatched (even by the hospital we were at 2 months prior to that in Chicago!)

Q: Would you like to honor someone special in your segment?
A: I’d like to honor 2 people in this segment
1) Ella Gottschalk – the strength this little girl showed from the moment she was born and to this day (and I’m sure beyond) is what kept/keeps me going. She’s a fighter, she’s incredibly brave, she’s what I want to be when I grow up
So much love for her big brother, Chance as well – he is our rock! Steady and strong.
2) Hilton Gottschalk – (he’s going to be so mad that I added this, but I’m writing it, so he can’t stop me) Every day he works at Dell, he draws from his experience from when we were the “parents of the patient” and uses it. He uses it to make each patient feel more comfortable, making them laugh or taking their mind off being at the hospital. He uses it to help communicate and empathize with the parents. He uses it when working with the nurses, surgical team and other doctors. The experience we have had during our hospital stays were scary, but he is able to find the good in it and use it to help each patient he sees. When we have to visit Dell for follow-ups and MRIs, these are the kind of doctors we encounter – this is what makes Dell great.

The Dell Children’s Trust is accomplishing some big things for Dell Children’s Medial Center, thanks to beautiful families like this one! If you’re not already a member, and this stirs your heart like it does ours, please contact Suellen Brown at sabrown@ascension.org to find out how YOU can be a part of this amazing group of people.

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