Touchette was with the baby who went down first, and she was in charge of squeezing the tiny AMBU bag attached to a mask that breathed for the baby as a doctor carried him down the stairs. They had to step in unison and be sure not to disrupt the multiple intravenous lines.
They had to do it all in the dark, damp -- and now windy -- stairwell.
"It seemed like it took forever at the time," Touchette said. "But it definitely took up less than 15 minutes."
Once that baby was downstairs, Touchette could help set up more teams of physicians and nurses to bring down the other five babies, including Will.
And as that group searched for a clear staircase, Donovan bumped into a nurse carrying a baby bundled in blankets.
It was Will. And he was sleeping.
They walked down the stairs together and rode in an ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital. Donovan still marvels at how Will's nurse worked more than 30 hours that night.
"It's not like, 'That was our son's nurse one time.' It's 'That was our good friend, Annie,'" he said. "He fell asleep in bed and woke up in Mount Sinai. He slept the whole way through. ... He was totally comfortable in her arms."
The last cardio patient left the hospital at 2:30 a.m., Ludomirsky said, and the last pediatric patient left at 4:30 a.m.
"The next day, we started to do rounds in all the other hospitals, and families asked us how we were doing," Ludomirsky said. "'How are you doing after climbing up and down who knows how many times?' 'Did you get some sleep?'"
All Ludomirsky's patients are doing well, he said, and many of them have returned to NYU Langone for follow-up surgeries. Patients with congenital heart defects usually need a series of three surgeries: one a few days after birth, one a few months later, and one a few years later.
Touchette said many of the families sent Christmas cards and photos of their babies to show how well they were doing.
"Everyone went above and beyond expectations for their jobs," she said. "It shows you the type of people who work on this unit every day. People who really love kids and feel very empathetic toward families."
Will's family celebrated his first birthday at home earlier this month. He won't need another heart surgery until he's about 2 years old, and his latest echocardiograms looked great, Donovan said.
"First birthdays are always very special, but his was a little extra special knowing all that he's been through," Donovan said. "We celebrated the miracle that is Will."