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By DANIEL J. VANCE
Following a distressing situation that would have emotionally crushed most of us, 38-year-old Patrick Donohue of New York City has been able to redeem a great amount of good from it to benefit millions of Americans. I consider what Donohue has been doing one of the most important, largely untold stories in America today.
“When she was five days old, our daughter Sarah Jane was shaken by her baby nurse,” said Donohue in a telephone interview. “We'd hired this nurse for the first month (after Sarah Jane's birth) to have someone there as an expert in rearing children.”
Shaken doesn't adequately describe what happened. Many doctors call this “shaken baby syndrome.” In the days after the injury, the Donohues noticed their daughter wasn't crying, eating or latching on to breast feeding. They then took her to a doctor and learned she had four broken ribs, broken collarbones, and had sustained a traumatic brain injury.
“There were only four of us (that had access to Sarah Jane),” said Donohue, “and the [baby nurse] eventually confessed to the police. There is no making sense of it. We later learned this monster had harmed other children.”
Sarah Jane, now age 4, can't yet walk, stand or eat on her own. Only recently was she weaned off anti-seizure medication. She is “babbling,” Donohue said, but not saying recognizable words. He seems to be trying everything to help his daughter, including having her participate in a new form of treatment at Duke University and entreating God for a miracle.
Along the way, mainly due to stress, Donohue and his wife have divorced.
“Several years ago, while becoming settled in to the daily routine of caring for Sarah Jane, I was reading everything I could about the brain,” he said. “It occurred to me what little we know about it. I also learned the field (of pediatric brain injury) was fractured and no one knew what everybody else was doing.”
About this time, he began the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, and immediately fell back on the skills that had made him a lawyer and top-tier political consultant. As for the latter, Donohue had raised more than $500 million for various political clients. He had political connections, a razor-sharp brain and glib tongue, and personal motivation in eagerly wanting to see his daughter improve.
Next week, learn what he has been accomplishing.
Contact danieljvance.com [All American Foods and Blue Valley Sod made this column possible.]