15 Photos Of Brave Kids Returning To School After Hospital Stays

“The first day of school is much more than a milestone. It’s a return to normalcy."

For kids who have spent extended periods in the hospital, getting back to the classroom for the first day of school represents a victorious return to regular life.

Last week, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta invited families of current and former patients to share photos of their kids going back to school on the hospital's Facebook page. Over 100 parents responded with photos and stories that are both emotional and triumphant.

"At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we often say that our job is to get kids back where they belong -- that’s out of the hospital and back to classrooms, neighborhoods and ball fields where they can experience the joys of childhood,” Pediatrician in Chief, Dr. Jim Fortenberry, told The Huffington Post in an email.

“When a child’s daily life has been interrupted by injury or illness, the first day of school is much more than a milestone. It’s a return to normalcy," he continued. "It’s a milestone that’s been preceded by the achievement of other milestones, such as gaining enough strength to breathe without a ventilator or building back an immune system that’s been weakened by chemotherapy or anti-rejection medicines."

Continue scrolling for a sample of some of the proud schoolkids and visit the CHOA Facebook page for more photos and stories.

1
Felicity
Sarah Harris Martin
"Felicity was diagnosed with TAPVR and had open heart surgery at 4 days old at Egleston in December 2012 with Dr. Kogon. She started 2-year-old preschool this week."
2
Matthew
Kerri McMahon
"Matthew's first day of seventh grade. He missed the last one and a half years of school going through treatment for osteosarcoma."
3
Jacob
Shawn-Jennifer Douglas
"[Jacob has] Down syndrome and had open heart surgery to repair a VSD and an ASD at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta when he was just 18 months old. August 3 was his first day of Kindergarten. We LOVE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta."
4
Meagan
Molly Gareau
"Born with severe hydrocephalus, shunted at birth -- 14 brain surgeries later, Meagan had her first summer home with no hospital visits, stays or brain surgeries. Yay! She went back to her special needs preschool today in Cobb County!"
5
Eli
Charity Johanson
"Eli's first day back at preschool after his bone marrow transplant in May of 2014. He was hospitalized for eight months at CHOA and spent 34 days in the ICU. He is a Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome survivor!
6
Presleigh
Cynthia Smith
"Presleigh's first day of kindergarten! She was born with TGA and had corrective surgery at 2 days old! She is a beautiful, healthy, happy, blessed 5 year old!"
7
Emelie
Jenny Kuziak Wehunt
"Emelie has a seizure disorder, is missing a piece of chromosome and had to have neurosurgery when she was 3 for a Chiari. Thank God for answered prayers!! First day of 2nd grade."
8
Grant
Leah Wolfe
"Grant spent the first few months of his amazing life at Egleston with a diaphragmatic hernia. This week he started kindergarten a healthy, happy and hilarious miracle kid. We love CHOA!"
9
Abbagail
Lisa Hamby
"Abbagail was diagnosed with Pierre Robin sequence. Six surgeries later, she's is a healthy, smart, beautiful 5 year old who just started kindergarten."
10
Jeremy
Susan Carcione Brown
"Jeremy was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in December 2014. He's starting seventh grade. He has two more years of treatments, but he always has a smile on his face."
11
Mike
Debbie Reynolds Heininger
"Mike was born with spina bifida. He is 10 years old and in the fifth grade!!!"
12
Kinley
Maghan Roberts Cockrell
"This sweet little 2 year old started her new early preschool class on Monday! She's had four surgeries at Scottish Rite for her cleft lip and cleft palate. And I work at Children's! Sure holds a special place in our hearts."
13
Eva
Nicole Mario Perezcassar
"Eva has hypoplastic left heart syndrome and a pace maker. She has had many open heart surgeries. Today is the first day of first grade!!!! Thanks CHOA nurses and many thanks Dr. Kanter!"
14
Troy
Aimee Michelle Strickland
"With osteogenesis imperfecta type 3, 9-year-old Troy has had over 100 fractures to date and nine rodding surgeries on his legs. We were told he wouldn't survive birth or the first year, and if he did he, would constantly break [his legs] and be wheelchair bound. He is entering third grade fracture free this summer and on his own two feet!"
15
Tyler
Barbara Linnea Rion
"Tyler (on the left) is a Leukemia survivor that was diagnosed at age 3 and cared for by Dr. Abshire. He's now a sophomore at Georgia Military College. We can't thank the entire Children's Healthcare of Atlanta organization enough for all their love and support of Tyler, and our family, during his treatment!!!"

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