• Cardiovascular

    In the Loop: These folks are all heart when it comes to toys for kids

some of the "heart families" who support Linsey Rippy's annual toy drive, including the Waletzkos, the Rippys and the Ulrichs - In the Loop storyMayo Clinic “heart families” who support the toy drive include the Waletzkos (left) and Rippys (center), as well as Kari and Rob Ulrich (right) and their daughter, Sydney, who participate in memory of their son and brother, Cameron, who passed away following a heart transplant.

Young Teagan Waletzko was spending a lot of time in the hospital. Far more than she cared for. But it was the only way Teagan, then 3, could see her new baby brother, Isaac, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect. "Finding ways to keep our family together and keep some normalcy was challenging when we needed to spend lots of waking hours at the hospital," mom Michelle Waletzko tells us. "We brought her with us as much as we could, but she got bored easily."

During one of Teagan's visits, a nurse took her for a walk. When she came back, Teagan had a new toy — and one for Isaac as well, courtesy of a toy closet on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. "It made Teagan feel special and welcomed and it kept her busy in the hospital room so we could enjoy being a family," Michelle, a sonographer at Mayo Clinic, tells us. "It was an amazing gift at a time we needed it."

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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.