Passion for Patrick
The Collen family finds strength in tragedy
In 2016, Brian and Marylou Collen's youngest son, Patrick, was taken by ambulance to our Fort Worth medical center. Later that night, the couple was faced with one of the most difficult decisions a parent could face: whether or not they would resuscitate their child. "He started his life in an ambulance and ended it in an ambulance," Brian stated, regarding his son.
The tragedy of losing Patrick was an incredibly difficult part of the family's life, but they have turned their loss into a point of strength, rallying around each other for support and giving to Cook Children's to help families experiencing situations like theirs.
Early in his life, Patrick was admitted to our neonatal intensive care unit to manage Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Patrick suffered from so many respiratory and eating issues that his family never really discovered everything he had. With Patrick facing so many medical challenges, the Collens spent a lot of time under the blue peaks of our Fort Worth medical center. One thing, above all else, made a huge impact on Marylou and Brian during that time: the love and care our Child Life specialists showed for their family.
"I didn't ever stay to sleep here, but I knew that Patrick was fine," said Marylou. "I never worried about 'Oh, I have to be there every moment because something might happen while I'm gone.' I knew I could leave him and go tend to the other two boys, because they were missing me as well and they couldn't sleep there."
Brian agreed, adding, "You need a minute to think by yourself, you need time to talk to the doctors without people interrupting. It seemed like Child Life was there every time that we needed them to be there. They just kind of showed up — like they knew what was going on. It made this bearable. I can't imagine being in that situation without them to help."
After Patrick passed away, the Collens were introduced to Camp Morningstar, a camp for families to cope with losing a child and and adjust to their new normal. At first, the family didn't know what to expect, but looking back, they are so grateful for the two years they attended the camp. "It was a healing process," said Marylou.
"The activities that they did, being in that environment, watching our kids have a good time and just be kids. It was really special for them too."
Inspired by their experiences at Cook Children's and Camp Morningstar, Brian and Marylou decided to donate to help other families. "We saw up front what it meant to be a donor to the Cook Children's Health Foundation," Brian stated. The company he works for, CAE USA, has a matching program for employee donations, effectively doubling the impact of the Collens' donations and raising a total of $4,000 for our Children's Fund.
Patrick was only 9 months old when he passed, and, as an organ donor, his name is memorialized in the meditation garden at our medical center in Fort Worth.
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Thank you from each family, patient, nurse, physician and staff member whose life you will have touched with your generosity.