By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, email@example.com
Kristin Cocklin can be forgiven for becoming emotional. After all, her little girl had just graduated from high school, and it was no easy road.
Chloe Weinberg was born in LaGrange, Indiana, with a congenital heart defect that required multiple surgeries at Riley Hospital for Children, starting when she was just a baby.
Ultimately, she was diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, a disorder that affects many areas of the body, including the heart, hearing and overall growth and development.
She was in and out of the hospital, and over the years, she counted on the care of her heart center team at Riley – a lot of people really – but two names stand out, namely longtime cardiologist Randall Caldwell (now retired) and surgeon Mark Turrentine.
Cocklin believes she owes her daughter’s life to them. In a message she sent to the two physicians via Riley’s Facebook page, she said this:
“Hello, I am a mother of a Riley kid! I wanted to say thank you to you both! My daughter Chloe Weinberg is a heart patient. Dr Caldwell, you were her doctor for 18 years … clear up ‘til you retired! You are an amazing person for the fact you would remember who we all were when you would see us down in the cafeteria. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. Because of you, she is graduating high school in June! That is also because of you, Dr Turrentine. If it wasn't for you performing her surgeries, it would be a very different time for us! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! God bless both of you!”
Chloe is tiny – just 4 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing about 80 pounds. But she stood tall last weekend when she walked across the stage at Northside High School in Fort Wayne to mark the completion of her high school career.
“She’s been doing amazing, Cocklin said of her daughter, who likes to read and do crafts at home, as well as take care of her baby sister. At school, she loved participating in choir and helping out in the office.
Now that she has graduated, Chloe hopes to work with her mom at a local nursing home, where she can help residents with activities.
Whatever the future holds, Cocklin remains ever grateful for the care her daughter received at Riley from the time she was a baby until she turned 18.
“Dr. Turrentine, thank you so much for saving her life. And Dr. Caldwell, thank you so much for all the years you were there for my little girl. If it wasn’t for you finding her heart condition, my baby wouldn’t be here.”
In a previous interview, Dr. Caldwell, who retired at the end of 2020, said he was overwhelmed by the letters of thanks he received from families over the years.
“Kids I’ve taken care of in the past are now in their 40s and 50s – you don’t realize what impact you have sometimes,” he said. “But if you do things for the right reasons, it works out well.”