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Northview Teachers, Staff Show Their Heart

When Darlene Parks’ heart went bad, Northview staff and students showed how big theirs is.

The former teacher assistant at East Oakview Elementary daycare suffered a massive heart attack in January. Feeling pressure in her chest as she left work, at first she thought it was just anxiety. Within hours doctors at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital were working to save her life.

The wife of longtime Northview High School custodian Bob Parks spent almost four weeks in a medically induced coma. When she awoke, doctors had implanted a tiny heart pump called an Impella.

 “I believe that the Impella, with God and all the prayers, truly saved my life,” says Darlene, 52, and like Bob, a Northview graduate.

Many prayers came from Northview staff and students. One day high school administrative assistant Mary Parmerlee brought the couple a box full of get-well cards and a $500 gift card from Northview staff. Then she presented a second $500 gift card, this one bought by students who collected the total over lunch.

“It’s like the whole community reached out to us in our hour of need,” Darlene says. Adds Bob, “All of Northview treated us like family.”

Students later held a blood drive in her honor, donating 83 units – three more than she received in the hospital. The couple recently returned from an expenses-paid trip to Boston, where she and other Impella recipients were honored by Abiomed, its manufacturer.

“It was beautiful,” says Darlene. “It’s just been an amazing journey.”

Connect:

Northview Public Schools

How the Impella heart pump works

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio

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