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‘Mrs. Bush Is a Heroine’: Former First Lady’s Legacy to Live on at Children’s Hospital

4/17/18 7:40 p.m. UPDATE: Former first lady Barbara Bush has died. She was 92. 

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As Barbara Bush receives end of life care, former patients at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland, Maine are sending their well wishes to the former first lady.

"I just want her to know that all the children from her hospital are thanking her for the happiness that she has given them," Avery Garrison, a 7-year-old former patient, said.

Garrison was born with a rare genetic disease, and required nine surgeries before the age of 3. She met Barbara Bush during one of her stays at the hospital.

"When Barbara was there, it felt like [the kids] were home, I think," Garrison said.

Cameras captured the moment then-3-year-old Avery met Bush during a book reading. When the toddler admired Bush's jewelry, the former first lady slipped off her bracelet and gave it to Garrison as a gift.

It was a Sandy Hook remembrance bracelet. Garrison still holds on to it, and says her favorite part is a trinket on the bracelet depicting the Tree of Life.

"In our eyes, Mrs. Bush is a heroine because of everything she has done for children," Garrison's mother, Cheryl Herbert, said. "The fact that she's a first lady makes it even more amazing."

Herbert said her daughter's remarkable progress is a credit to the care at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.

"It's why we choose to still live here, because we have a really good hospital nearby," Herbert said.

Bush has given back to Maine in many ways beyond her time and donations to the BBCH. She has raised millions of dollars for family literacy through the Barbara Bush Foundation, and supports a lecture series and center at the University of New England.

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