The Most Terrifying Night of My Life

Just days after becoming parents for the first time in 1988, my wife and I faced stress we had never imagined. Our baby girl was obviously not well. We rushed to the local hospital near our home in Banner Elk, N.C., to find out why.

The doctor recognized right away that it was serious, involving her gastrointestinal tract. He said we had two options—go to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md., or Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.

“Where would you go?” I asked.

“I’d go to Baptist,” he said, using the common shorthand reference to Wake Forest Baptist
Medical Center and the pediatric care provided at Brenner Children’s Hospital.

They considered transporting our daughter to Winston-Salem by helicopter, but the foggy
weather wouldn’t allow it. “I’d just go,” our doctor said, “and we’ve called ahead so they’ll know you’re coming.”

The drive to Winston-Salem that night was the most terrifying two hours of my life, but what happened next is really the magic of Brenner Children’s.

We arrived at the emergency room, got out and said, “We’re the Potters.” We were greeted
with a smile. “We’ve been expecting you,” someone said.

We were in the NICU for several days, and the nurses there were some of the most amazing people I’ve ever seen. There were children and families there dealing with situations much worse than ours, and we saw people who gave their all for those children. Their knowledge and care were second to none. They were real champions.

Our daughter had surgery, and the surgeon took care of us as a family. As soon as the surgery was over, he was with us, helping us understand how to care for our daughter and what to expect. For him, these scared new parents who had no idea of what they were dealing with were his absolute highest priority.

Many months later, I was offered a job in Winston-Salem, and I took the position in part because it moved us closer to Brenner Children’s, where our daughter might need to go again. In all, she received a year and a half of care that included two surgeries and numerous follow-up visits with a variety of specialists.

Norman D. PotterThe doctors and nurses there guided us through a very stressful time in our lives. We worked with a team that really cared for our daughter and for us, and eventually all three of our children would receive care in one form or another at Brenner Children’s.

I didn’t know then that, years later, I would come to work at Wake Forest Baptist. I know that in Brenner Children’s Hospital we have a place that not only cares for the child but also takes care of the family. I’ve lived it

Norm Potter

Norman D. Potter
Chief Philanthropy Officer
Vice President, Philanthropy and Alumni Relations
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center