WARNING: THIS ARTICLE INCLUDES IMAGES SOME READERS MAY FIND DISTURBING
Henry Dolan is one brave little boy! He has already undergone life-saving heart transplant surgery. After 10 whole months in the hospital, the little trooper finally got to go home to his two adoring older sisters.
This little warrior was born 12 weeks premature with a serious heart condition on May 2, 2016. The newborn’s parents, Mollie and Sam Dolan, from Annandale, Minnesota, named their son Henry Dolan. Henry had to spend nearly a whole year in the hospital. So far, he has gone through several operations—including heart transplant surgery—and has since had to battle pneumonia as well as adverse drug reactions.
CHD challenge day 9.Heart dad"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society."-Billy Graham
Henry has spent his whole life hooked up to tubes and wires. After he was transferred to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital (nearly 1,000 km away from home) to await his new heart, it became impossible for his two sisters Nora and Ava (2 and 5) to visit him. For those last five months, they communicated with him via FaceTime.
My heart beats for two. It’s so hard to believe that two years ago today, this little boy was in the ICU clinging to…
A friend of Mollie’s made a life-sized baby doll of Henry for the girls, complete with tubes in his mouth and nose, as well as a wire affixed to his chest—just like Henry. The girls took to caring for the doll while their brother was away. Nora had become especially fond of carrying the doll around, kissing, cuddling and talking to her little “baby Henry.”
“My daughters love the doll, especially our youngest daughter Nora,” Mollie told Mirror Online. “As far as coping goes, she doesn’t fully understand things yet, but she knows baby Henry is sick and that he’s in the hospital getting better.”
On Oct. 15, 2016, both of Henry’s parents were speechless when they were finally told their son would be having heart transplant surgery the next day. Leading up to the operation, Mollie made the announcement on their Facebook blog, Hope for Henry Charles, asking for prayers: “Please be praying for us and the donor family as we know they are going through unimaginable grief.”
She added that she would be posting updates and videos of the surgery live. “Just a pre-warning,” she said. “I do intend to post pictures and videos from surgery throughout the day. So if you have a weak stomach, you may want to avoid his posts for the remainder of the day.”
Through a special texting app called EASE, Mollie received regular live updates and photos from the operating room, which she posted online. Her posts included pictures of her son on the operating table. She also included images of Henry’s new heart in a cooler, the old one in a white tub, as well as pictures of the bypass machine, which pumped blood through Henry’s body during the procedure. The final update stated that the operation had been a brilliant success, and included a video showing Henry’s “perfect” heartbeat.
Mollie posted: “The surgeon just came in to visit with us. They’re all finished. He said everything went according to plan, with no surprises.
“God is good. Thank you Jesus! Thank you prayer warriors! We are still waiting to be reunited [with Henry].”
Mollie and Sam’s little trooper had to spend the next five months in the hospital recovering, fighting off pneumonia as well as “withdrawals.” At the eventual day of departure, the boy sported three balloons and a baby grow emblazoned with “This Warrior Is Going Home” on the front. He still had tubes in his nose, however, to supply oxygen.
Finally home, Henry was reunited with his two big sisters after spending his entire life in the hospital. The two girls can now see their baby brother every day and give him proper hugs and cuddles.
Ever since Henry was born, neighbors and strangers alike have been rallying behind the Dolan family like a team. His grampa Skip Dolan is a basketball and softball coach at Annandale High School, and after his players as well as their parents found out about Henry’s condition, they helped to raise funds through Hope for Henry bracelets.
Each player on the team wears a bracelet, and before each game, they hang them on a tree next to an honorary Jersey in Henry’s name, with #13 on it, the same number his dad, Sam, once wore.
“For them to do that for Henry, I hope someday he gets there to wear that jersey, and he’s strong enough to run up and down that court,” Sam said.
Although Henry’s doctors were the ones doing the hands-on work—fixing up Henry’s body on the inside, both of his parents believe that it was their faith and the community that really made their baby’s story so miraculous.
“Sisters and brothers are the truest, purest forms of love, family and friendship, knowing when to hold you and when to…
“I think certainly somebody’s been watching out for him,” Mollie said. “We just want to make sure to thank everybody. I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said. “We couldn’t have done that without you.”
In January 2019, Henry went through a surgery to treat his tethered spine, according to a Facebook post by Hope for Henry Charles.