the Christopher

{the Christopher} We are honored to introduce to you the Christopher Binkeez for comfort to honor angel Christoper. Christopher flew into the arms of the angels after multiple organ transplants.

This Binkeez was designed by his friend Ashley, of the The Ashley Wade Foundation. There are very special plans for this Binkeez that we look forward to sharing in the start of 2016.

We are also proud to share Christopher’s dad funded a new station at Binkeez, in Christopher’s memory that we will be dedicating soon.

Please take a moment to learn about sweet Christopher as written by the head of the PICU at Mount Sinai Hospital.

In Christopher’s Memory…

I offered to speak about Christopher today since he was a beautiful boy with a kind, generous soul, who has a wonderful family, just like him. As I collected my thoughts, I realized that I know Chris through only one lens – that of the bright, noisy, crowded PICU. The PICU is an unnatural place where there is no day or night, where time is defined by rounds and procedures, meals are described as intravenous or nasogastric, nurses, social workers, child life therapists, PCAs, BAs and physicians are your main company, and everyone strives to go home. I didn’t really know Chris when he was outside of the PICU, which was a major part of his life. From hearing stories and looking on Facebook, I learned that he loved sports and computer games, loved his friends, really loved his parents, and loved his home. It was the hospital staff’s job during each admission to get him home, so that he could be playful, sweet Christopher.

However, you learn a lot about a child when he is fighting to live.

The PICU first met Chris and his parents in 2004, when Chris was a thin, tiny infant who had liver failure. Chris (and his parents) went through the pain of 3 liver transplants in succession: First, the excitement of finding a donor, then the worry of the long surgery, followed by the disappointment (twice) when the liver failed. True to form, the family became a part of the PICU fabric (at that time on P3 and P6). His parents were involved, caring, and always present. Chris was a very resilient baby and left after the third transplant to have a happy childhood away from the PICU. Even as he was discharged, I remember joking with Kevin (his father) about the cost of a bottle of Prograf (> $100) vs a bottle of methadone (about $4). Life was an adventure, and they were grateful for Christopher’s chance to live it, and for all those who donated organs for him.

The PICU staff didn’t see Chris or his family for about 10 years until last winter, when Chris developed GI bleeding, signaling the need for his multivisceral transplant. Chris received a 5-organ transplant last May. He faced the reality of needing this massive surgery with grace and courage, and a maturity way beyond his years. He got his inner strength from his family’s faith, presence, and love. Chris was desperately ill immediately following the surgery and several times since last May. Each time he survived because of the faith and love that surrounded him. He remained a courageous boy with a dry sense of humor. He was never bitter, never pitiful. He made good friends with other hospitalized kids, who will really miss him.

Small vignettes I remember during his many hospitalizations:

* A very normal conversation about schoolwork:

o Me:” Chris, what ‘s your favorite subject?”

o Chris,” I don’t know, but it’s not math. I have to do this work sheet before I can go to the Zone.”

* A Saturday morning rounds in the PICU:

o I go in to find a disco ball spinning and psychedelic lights. Party in the PICU a la Kevin.

* Visiting Christopher to check on his pain. Chris was not a complainer and often courageously downplayed his pain , if he felt it would hasten his discharge to home.

* Being startled one day when a large, very realistic but stuffed dog was sitting on Chris’ bed.

* Finding Kevin near the bookstore, in the corridors, near the cafeteria, always ready to share the latest updates on Chris’ progress. He was always knowledgeable, always hopeful, but never afraid to share his concerns.

* Morning PICU rounds with the medical team, surgeons, and Kevin. Kevin epitomized family-centered care. He was involved, would ask insightful questions, offer suggestions and opinions, teach us about Chris, and learn a lot of medicine. Chris was well cared for, in a large part due to Kevin’s knowledge and participation in his care. Chris was very proud of his father and trusted his opinion above all others.

* Chris’ sweet smile when he felt better and when he received good news about going home.

So the things I know and admired about Chris are:

* His courage, in the face of surgeries, new medications, needle sticks, procedures, dialysis, and pain.

* His dry sense of humor, especially evident when sharing a joke with his dad.

* His desire to be a normal kid with friends and his acceptance that he needed to make friends in the hospital and at home.

* His resilience which was pretty amazing.

* His gentleness with everyone, no matter how much pain he was in.

* The hope and love that surrounded him every day and forever.

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