Two Sacramento Republic FC soccer players visited UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit this summer.
Their goal? To cheer up Yuba City resident Georgie Paredes, a 12-year-old soccer player recovering from open-heart surgery.
Paredes was lying in bed, feeling a little low that he wouldn’t be able to return to soccer for six weeks, when midfielder Rodrigo Lopez and defender Cristian Gonzalez walked in.
They carried a soccer ball and a custom Sacramento Republic jersey with Paredes’s name and favorite number on the back.
Amy Rahm, Paredes’ heart surgeon, encouraged him to walk the hall with the players. It was the motivation he needed to get out of bed.
"Once we asked him to take a walk, maybe kick the soccer ball around, his face brightened up and he immediately looked like just a normal kid, not someone who just had surgery less than 48 hours ago," Rahm said.
"You could really see the transformation almost immediately."
The miniature fingers of a two-months-premature baby wrap around the seemingly large thumb of UC Davis volunteer donor Jim Donoghue.
Donoghue, who never had children of his own, volunteers countless hours at the UC Davis Medical Center Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For the past two years he has comforted the fragile patients of the Children’s Hospital, sometimes for hours at a time.
Known among the NICU staff as the “baby whisperer,” Donoghue has a remarkable ability to comfort the premature and ill babies receiving care there. When a baby can’t stop crying, parents know they can trust Donoghue to soothe their child.