Fort Worth, Texas,
14:21 PM

Close to Our Hearts: The Personal Reason Why This Mom Became a Nurse at Cook Children's

Organ and tissue donations help to save her son's life

By Daron Aldridge

For Heather Giattini, RN, Cook Children’s holds a special place in her heart. Less than two years ago her two-and-a-half year son, Brooks, had his first open-heart surgery to address his aortic stenosis (a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve). It was then that she witnessed firsthand the power of the love and caring Cook Children’s staff and physicians give to their patients and families.

Even though she was a nurse in the adult hospital world at the time, she no more got home from discharge, looked at her husband Matt and said, “I HAVE to work there!” The opportunity finally presented itself and Heather joined Cook Children’s as a cardiovascular surgery nurse earlier this year.

Her desire to work here is simple. She explains, “I wanted to be a part of making people feel the way they made me feel. From our doctors – Dr. (Vincent) Tam and Dr. (Lisa) Roten – to the entire staff that took care of us, it was all amazing. This is where I knew I belonged.”

It wasn’t just Heather who belonged here. As fate would have it, following a recent routine checkup with Dr. Roten, his parents were faced with the reality that a now 4-year-old Brooks would need another surgery. Even though they had hoped it would be years before he would need another surgery, Heather and Matt found solace in the fact that they knew Cook Children’s was the place Brooks belonged also.

But this time, the surgery would be a little different. Thanks to organ and tissue donations and the hand-in-hand work of Cook Children’s and CryoLife, Brooks would be getting a new valve in his heart that will hopefully mean this is the last surgery this young boy will need for decades.

The tissues, like the ones that are helping save Brooks’ life, are donated by families, who have lost loved ones and want to bring joy and hope out of their loss. Through CyroLife, these donations are cryopreserved for 10 years. This means they are able to positively influence and possibly change the lives of children, who aren’t even born yet. When these families make such a decision to be organ and tissue donors, they truly do “Donate Life.” Please visit to learn more about the life-saving importance of the selfless act of organ and tissue donation.

To celebrate the monumental impact such donations can have on patients, Brooks is the first proud recipient of the Donate Life: Recipient pin from CryoLife. The pin, along with similar pins that surgeons and nurses wear, are a quick way to show the world that organ and tissue donations can save lives.

As Brooks’ dad Matt said, “Most people think about the large organs when they think about donation but tissue donations may be small in size but can have a huge impact on lives.”

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