A Tribute To Our Medical Team

Gratitude. Our hearts are overflowing with an immeasurable amount of joy for all that our medical team has done to assist with our care. God has used Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to provide hope and healing to our family. The skilled doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other support staff have been the human vessels that have given Shafer an extension on life.

All praise and glory goes to our Great Master Physician—Jesus Christ. As the picture depicts, He was the One guiding our committed surgeon’s hands as they worked on Baby Shafer and me. This picture is such a beautiful representation of how God not only watches over us, but carefully guides and provides protection in our lives. We always taped this picture to Shafer’s bed so it would serve as a reminder to all his caregivers that God was ultimately guiding their hands. What sweet memories we have of praying bedside with various surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents, and nurses before Shafer was whisked away to surgery. Thanks be to God Almighty for his ever-present hand on Baby Shafer as he has endured so much physically and been cared for spiritually. Our faith has certainly carried us on this journey…when our strength was gone it was the Lord who gave us exactly what we needed to carry on. What a privilege to be called a child of God. We thank you Father for giving Baby Shafer another chance at life. We willl trust and praise you all the days of our lives…

Dr. Jabs, Shafer’s nephrologist and lead physician, has walked every step of this journey with us. We met her in the early morning hours in November of 2009 when Shafer was only a month old. Her kindhearted nature, attention to details, and vast experience in the field of pediatrics brings a level of unprecedented trust to our relationship. Our open dialogue regarding Shafer’s condition has provided us the opportunity to learn and grow in many ways.


Dr. Adams has been on board as our urologist since the onset as well. He is a master surgeon as he has successfully operated four times on Baby Shafer. His calm demeanor and personal care for our family has been amazing. His entire staff is extremely friendly and always exudes professionalism. Thanks, Dr. Adams, for all you have done. We truly love you, and consider you part of our extended family!


On to Dr. Shaffer (and his very impressive resident, Dr. Smith). Who could have ever imagined in a million years that the surgeon we would entrust Baby Shafer to for this lifesaving surgery would have the same name? This is just another neat part of our story. A piece that really confirmed he was the vessel God would use to bring healing and renewed life to our son. Wow! What a blessing he was to us. His attention to detail, kind manner, and years of expertise proved to be the perfect mix for a successful outcome. We can’t thank you enough for the gift you have given us. You are one of God’s angels on earth...

And to round out our surgical team, my surgeon, Dr. Hale. As I try to find words to express my feelings, a big smile is covering my face. Every time I think of the surgery, I am overcome with an outpouring of gratitude for Dr. Hale. What an incredible role he played in harvesting my kidney while being careful to put me back together properly. Even though June 22 was just “another day at the office” for him, the results were life-changing for us. Dr. Hale is a miracle-worker who the Lord has allowed us to know and love. We are incredibly grateful for all he has done and will do as he provides my follow-up care.

And a special thanks to the other surgeons who have placed feeding tubes, dialysis catheters, and performed various routine procedures on Shafer. Every resident who assisted in Shafer’s care, every nurse, care partner, and every other support staff has deposited life into our son. We are especially thankful for the anesthesiologist team who assisted with all of his surgeries because they are a BIG piece to the puzzle of his ultimate recovery.

The list would not be complete if we did not mention a few of our surgeons and doctors from our medical team in Chattanooga. Dr. Lisa Smith performed the critical life-saving surgery on Shafer’s congenital diaphragmatic hernia when he was only 12 days old at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital. Her confidence and experience let us know that she was the one to do this time-sensitive surgery. And what a blessing she was…God used her to encourage us in ways unimaginable. Thanks “Lisa” for all you did to encourage us during some of the hardest days of our journey.

The entire team in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Chattanooga will always be dear to us. All of the intensivists were incredibly encouraging as Shafer struggled to hang onto life.

But I want to especially thank Dr. Talbot and Dr. Hall for their personal touch to us as a family when things were extremely critical. I will never forget the cup of cold water Dr. Talbot offered me as Shafer was being taken out of the unit headed to surgery. It reminded me of something Jesus would do…so kind, so thoughtful, so tender…and the words of encouragement he spoke to me bedside one day as I struggled to make sense of our situation: “Jada, you know that God gives special babies to special families. God knew that Baby Shafer would be loved and unconditionally cared for by you and your family, so he placed him with you for a special reason.” The comfort those words brought me that day…thanks, Dr. Talbot, for your priceless gift of encouragement.



And when we finally moved to the floor at T.C. Thompson’s, Dr. Santucci and her team took exceptionally good care of us. Dr. Santucci walked with us when tough decisions were being made about Shafer’s long-term care and her supportive role as a listener and mentor proved invaluable to us. There are no words to express our heartfelt gratitude for the genuine love and concern you have shown our family…

And last but not least, our faithful pediatrician, Dr. Tony Friddell, and his nurses, Elizabeth and Kassie (and the entire team at Pediatric Diagnostics). You have been so much more to us than your job descriptions require. You have cried and prayed with us bedside in ICU, visited us in the hospital, checked on us after hours, and provided top-notch care for us on this 2-year journey. We love you more than you will ever know and your constant support has helped us stay the course. God certainly blessed us with you as our primary care providers, but the sweet friendship that has formed through the years has been the greatest gift of all. For all you’ve done and will continue to do…we express our sincerest thanks.

With much love,
Shafer’s Mommy


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