EL PASO, Texas - El Paso Children's Hospital has been operating in the Borderland for five years. Staff, administrators, patients and their families celebrated with a birthday party.
Despite a challenging first five years, the party celebrated successes and patients who have been helped. Children's declared bankruptcy back in 2015 and is still trying to dig out of that financial hole.
Finances are only one challenge for the hospital.
Luring specialty doctors and nurses to the Borderland can be a tough sell.
Recruiters say lower salaries and a fear of living along the border are among the reasons.
Those who have chosen to work at Children's hospital have saved thousands of lives.
Seven-year-old Elija Garay came to the hospital as a patient a few years ago suffering from a rare blood disease.
His father, Michael Garay, works as a Customs and Border Protection officer. He says he is mentally and physically prepared for the worst -- but he was not prepared to potentially lose his son.
"The night my son had to go to the bathroom at the hospital, he collapsed," Garay said. "He told me, 'Daddy, my legs don't work anymore.' That was the worst moment of my life, I couldn't help him."
But the doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital could and did.
If Children's Hospital had not been there the Garay family would have had to travel to Houston or Cincinnati for treatment.
"There's probably 85 percent or so of those kids that don't have to leave at all, that used to have to leave," CEO Mark Amox said.
Dr. Lisa Ayoub-Rodriguez was born in El Paso but left. It was Children's Hospital that brought her back.
"It's still hard to recruit to El Paso. I mean if you are not from El Paso there is still that big challenge to bring El Paso's name up and say hey, would you want to come to this town?" Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has been at Children's Hospital almost since the beginning and is thrilled to still be there five years later.
"We can see the future. We know it's not going to happen overnight. But now, we've been working in the trenches, taking care of the kids and providing great quality care. But now we can move forward we can launch forward, we can grow," Rodriguez said.
The Garay family is also looking forward to the future and celebrating more of Elija's birthdays.
"Although HLS has no cure, we have been able to live our lives with a sense of comfort, and some normalcy knowing that Elijah continues to be monitored by El Paso's Children's Hospital," Garay said.
Elijah still comes back to the hospital for checkups, but his father says he is doing good and back in school. He is also forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who gave him a second chance at childhood.