Children’s Mercy program helps mom staying strong for toddler and family to be human and unwind

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Amanda Reeves' son, Rohen, is waiting for a new heart.

The 16-month-old is hooked to machines, as Amanda does whatever she can to stay strong for Rohen and his older sister.

“We definitely went into survival mode,” she said.

Amanda walks into Children`s Mercy Hospital day after day, pulling herself together for her family.

“You don`t realize because you`re always being so strong, you walk in every day and be strong because that`s what you do as a mom. You walk in and do it, and you don`t do it because you want to, you do it because you have to,” she said.

But a therapist who got to know the Reeves family occasionally forces Amanda to stop being strong and start being human, a mom who`s stressed and scared.

“Jami she`s just been there since day one,” said Reeves. “We kind of had a joke that she was the one who triggered me to cry, every time she walked in, I`d always cry about something.”

Jami is part of the THRIVE program at Children`s Mercy. It focuses on the psycho-social needs of patients, their family members, and even the staff members that treat these young patients.

“Parents of children with congenital heart disease can experience post-traumatic stress symptoms,” said Jami Gross Toalson.

Siblings often experience anxiety or depression, and staff members can also experience psychological distress based on their high-stress jobs to keep children alive. The THRIVE program includes a team of social workers and psychologists who are committed to helping everyone involved with their emotional health for years to come.

"They can contact us at any time following their admission,” said Gross Toalson. “Families down the road can just call or say I need resources, or I need therapy for my child`s siblings.”

It`s a service Amanda didn`t even realize she needed until she discovered that she can`t be strong in this difficult time unless she takes care of herself too.

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