When doctors saved his daughter's life with an innovative procedure, Nick Foligno felt the best way to say thanks was to pay it forward with a big boost to medical research.
The Columbus Blue Jackets forward was in town for a game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and made a $500,000 donation to Boston Children's Hospital as a token of thanks for the life-saving care his newborn daughter Milana received there in November 2013.
"I'm so fortunate to be in a business that provides for our family, but I want to provide for a lot of other families, my wife [Janelle] and I both, we felt it was important to give back to people," Foligno told the Columbus Blue Jackets Radio Network.
The excitement of being new parents three years ago quickly turned to concern when a mandatory test for newborns in Ohio revealed Milana had a leaky heart valve. According to Dr. Wayne Tworetzky, pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children's Hospital, the problem isn't as difficult to fix in older children and adults, but for babies that only weigh a few pounds, finding a valve small enough was a much greater challenge.
The Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve was a relatively new device used to correct heart defects at birth, but the Folignos decided it was the best option for Milana after talking to doctors and other families about her long-term health. Milana was just the 17th baby in the world to receive the Melody Valve. Three years later, she's a healthy, energetic toddler.
"She keeps bossing her little brother [Landon] around, for sure," Foligno told the Boston Globe. "I've never seen a kid in a headlock more in my life.''
During his visit to the hospital, Foligno met with staff members, as well as patients and their families.
Having benefitted from new medical advances, making a donation toward medical research became important to the Blue Jackets captain and his wife. They also made a $500,000 donation to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, where Milana was born and diagnosed.
"I think we felt really responsible to be able to give, and research, especially, is so important to us because that's really the way of the future, I say," Foligno said to the Blue Jackets Radio Network. "All these things are getting figured out through research, so that was important to us to focus our funds on that and find a way to help. And we couldn't be more proud of being able to help these doctors in the situation we're in and hopefully they can do great things with it."