Getting to Know Dr. Cooper

Dr. Cooper isn’t a Viv’s Kid, but he knows a lot about them. Actually, before Vivian’s Victory ever existed, Dr. Cooper knew Viv.

Dr. Cooper is a cardiac critical care physician in the cardiac intensive care unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where he cares for children and some adults with congenital heart disease. Vivi was his patient, so he got to know Vivian’s Victory founder Maria and her husband well. They stayed in touch as Maria got Vivian’s Victory started.

Now, we he sees Viv’s Kids, probably every day.

“Vivian’s Victory is subtle about who gets supported,” says Dr. Cooper, which means he doesn’t often know which of his patients are receiving help. But he sees the impact beyond any financial or physical relief: “Vivian’s Victory is a great resource for families—they provide for real physical needs but they also understand what families are going through.”

Vivian’s Victory can provide support in words and deeds, Dr. Cooper goes on to explain. “We find we underestimate the toll a critically ill child with congenital heart disease or severe heart disease has on the whole family. Most parents are pretty stoic and private, but it affects them—and any siblings—more deeply than we can imagine.”

Because they’ve turned their own tragedy into a form of giving and caring, Vivian’s Victory can empathize. When they meet a family in the ICU whose son or daughter is on a breathing machine or getting their chest opened for surgery, they’ve been there. “They can provide a level of insight that’s just not the same as other organizations, even counselors. They have a unique perspective,” says Dr. Cooper.

Better yet, having an organization like Vivian’s Victory can transform the whole medical experience. Dr. Cooper regularly sees firsthand how better alleviating stress allows families to establish better coping mechanisms, which lead to better decision-making. “Families have to make a lot of hard decisions. Sometimes life and death decisions—like when to proceed with surgery or not to proceed, when to seek a second opinion, when to stop care.”

“It can be awfully lonely,” Dr. Cooper adds. Bouncing ideas off a kind and understanding ear, talking through decisions with someone who’s not a physician and sharing struggles with another family who’s been there can be a major source of strength and encouragement.

As a doctor, he’s grateful for everything Vivian’s Victory does, and he wants other physicians to be aware of this resource: “The more we as team members know about this organization and others, the more we can point people there for help.”

Vivian’s Victory is more than a financial lifeline in the midst of a crisis, it really is the individual help families need most while children heal.