Thanksgiving at a Children's Hospital

"Not dying." "My new heart." "Going home." In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, we asked our patients and their families to share what they’re most thankful for this year. These children have spent much of 2015 away from their homes, schools and playgrounds to recover from things like surgeries and life-threatening accidents. We learned as much from what they did say as from what they didn't say. There's nary a mention of toys, video games or Disney vacations. Together, these brave kids and their families teach us an important lesson: If you can count good health among the things you’re grateful for this year, the rest of your worries are just the small stuff. We captured these photos Thursday, Nov. 19, at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.  

After an admission to our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Gabe expressed gratitude for something many of us take for granted: the ability to leave his bed and visit the family library.963035-ThanksgivingPhotos_outOFICUE-Web-2015

Megan, who spent 150 days in the hospital during this most recent admission, found a new friend in Izzy the therapy dog.

Just days after surgery, Gabrielle's family cheered as she left the hospital in her PJs.

Lara AnnaBeth is her parents' first child. As Lara AnnaBeth recovers from heart surgery, they'll spend their first Thanksgiving as a family in our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

Other big brothers might complain about their little brothers, but not Jacoby. Reuniting with his "very sweet" baby brother is the first thing he wants to do when he gets home.963035-ThanksgivingPhotos_sweetBrother-Web-2015

A perforated appendix landed Taryn in the hospital for more than a week. She wanted to give thanks to her family and friends for filling her room with pick-me-ups, including Sparkles the stuffed unicorn.

Taylor underwent heart transplant surgery on her 16th birthday. Though their home is hundreds of miles away in Mississippi, her family will celebrate the gift of life from our Cardiac Stepdown Unit this Thanksgiving.

Baby Charlotte cannot see or hear. When she grows bigger and stronger, she will undergo cochlear implant surgery that will help her hear her mom's voice for the first time.963035-ThanksgivingPhotos_NICU-Web-2015

Last month, Justin survived being struck by a moving bus. He wrote his answer without a moment's hesitation.963035-ThanksgivingPhotos_notDying-Web-2015

Maylee was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in September. Her shirt reads "Though she be but little, she is fierce." Maylee also wanted us to note that she is thankful for kitty cats and puppies.963035-ThanksgivingPhotos_nurses-Web-2015

Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, baby Anna has spent all seven months of her life in the hospital. Her mom's three-word response moved everyone in the room to tears.

Wherever you celebrate this year, may you be surrounded by the ones you love and grateful for things big and small.

See more of the photo series on our Instagram feed. Help support the brave kids in our hospitals here.