St. David's Children's Hospital hosts surprise graduation for patient

Instead of attending his graduation Friday night, a high school senior will be recovering from surgery in a North Austin hospital. But thanks to a handful of caring medical professionals he was still able to walk and get a diploma.



Friday morning St. David's Hospital nursing staff transformed a room into St. David's Children's High for an unsuspecting patient.

"Tucker quickly became a favorite at our hospital. I was notified at 7:30 last night that he was missing his high school graduation today. We spent the next several hours going to the grocery store finding a cap, finding a gown," said Misty Rowlison, St. David’s Children’s Hospital director

Donnie Dault is the Brady High School senior's dad. He was in on the surprise.

"It is gonna be great. He was trying to downplay graduation anyway. He's a big tough guy he didn't need it. This is going to be special for him,” said Dault.

As soon as family was seated, Tucker Dault's mother wheeled him in and helped him into his cap and gown.

"This is crazy,” said Tucker.

Tucker was admitted on Monday for compartment syndrome. Over the weekend, the U.S. Marine Corps poolee trained to prepare for boot camp. After the workout his leg muscles tensed up and his thighs grew so swollen he couldn't walk. Doctors had to make four large incisions to relieve the pressure. The issue would keep him in the hospital, unable to walk with his class.

So St. David's staff brought graduation to him.

Staff offered words of encouragement and then with the help of a Marine Corps staff sergeant, presented Tucker with a certificate from St. David's Children's High.

"This is just wild to me. I never would've expected this at all,” said Tucker. "I was looking around like when are all the other patients going to come by? I'm not the only one. This isn't all for me is it?”

"Tuck hasn't had it easy. He's had five high schools in four years with us moving around and the oil field crashing it affected our family in a big way. Throughout all of this Tuck has kept a great attitude and wanted to help the family. He's just a special guy,” said Dault.

Tucker will have to stay in the hospital for a few more days, but his doctor expects him to make a full recovery just in time for boot camp this fall.

"It's very cool. I'm a veteran myself. I was a Naval officer and I wish he'd join the Navy, but I will get him in the Marine Corps if I can,” said Dr. Harris Rose, chief of surgery.