On the Pulse

Treating Patients With Autism in the Emergency Department

Dr. Eileen Klein, attending physician and co-director of Emergency Medicine Research, will speak about the challenges families and children with autism face in navigating the emergency department.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are becoming a larger proportion of Seattle Children’s patients, challenging providers to develop new tactics to meet their unique needs.

This year’s Pediatric Bioethics Conference, “Autism Re-examined: Ethical Challenges in Care, Support, Research and Inclusion,” will focus on the challenges and special requirements of treating these patients.

Dr. Eileen Klein, attending physician and co-director of Emergency Medicine Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is a featured speaker at this year’s conference. She gave On the Pulse a sneak preview of her presentation plans, what she’s most looking forward to and what she hopes to learn. Read full post »

Just Ask: Are Your Firearms Stored Safely?

The first day of summer marks a season when kids often spend more time at the homes of friends and other family members. Before children head off for playdates or childcare in another home, parents often ask common safety questions about the house their child will be visiting like “Who else will be home?” “Are there pets in the house?” Or, “Can I install the car seat in your car before I leave?” There’s one other important question parents should add to the list: “Is there an unlocked firearm in your house?” Read full post »

Care Team Brings Prom to Teenager Waiting for a New Heart, Helps Her Attend Graduation With a Second Chance at Life

Bella Anderson, 18, missed nearly two months of her senior year waiting for a heart at Seattle Children's.

Bella Anderson, 18, missed nearly two months of her senior year waiting for a heart at Seattle Children’s.

Isabella (Bella) Anderson, 18, was running out of time. Her heart was failing and doctors didn’t know how much more it could withstand. She needed a change in luck and some good news.

Finally, Bella got just that: a surprise and the news she’d been waiting for.

A long road to transplant

At only 10 years old, Bella went to see the doctor for strep throat, but doctors found something more alarming: a heart murmur. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle’s wall.

From that day forward, she was monitored closely by Seattle Children’s Heart Center, one of the best pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery programs in the U.S., and the top-ranked program in the Pacific Northwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Unfortunately, as time progressed, so did her heart condition. Cardiomyopathy reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and can lead to congestive heart failure.

Slowly, her heart began to fail. Read full post »

Dr. Jeff Sperring Reacts to Orlando Tragedy: Encourages Community to Celebrate Diversity

Jeff Sperring

Dr. Jeff Sperring, Chief Executive Officer of Seattle Children’s, reacts to the Orlando tragedy. 

Like all of you, I was heartbroken this weekend to hear about the tragedy that happened in Orlando. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts go out to the families, friends and communities who were so deeply affected in Florida and well beyond.

Hate can never be a part of our actions. Equally, hate should never be a part of our reactions. In the midst of this senseless act by a single person, we must use this time to reaffirm our commitment to each other. Our diversity, unity and tolerance create a light that cannot be overshadowed by anything that would aim to divide us.

At Seattle Children’s, we are a better team because we are different. We are a stronger team and a stronger community because we celebrate our differences and allow them to bring us together. I am proud to be part of the Seattle Children’s team that welcomes, includes and respects all of our patients, families and team members — for who we are, where we’re from and how we live and worship. Read full post »

Sea Anemone Venom Shows Promise For Lupus Immunotherapy Treatment

Photo credit: Michele Kelly, San Blas, Panama

Sea anemone venom is showing promise a potential lupus immunotherapy. Photo credit: Michele Kelly, San Blas, Panama.

Sea anemones that grow on the ocean floor are showing promise as a source of treatment for lupus, a painful disease in which a person’s immune system attacks its own healthy, normal cells.

Dr. Anne Stevens, who treats and studies lupus at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is presenting results this week from her research on dalazatide, a compound derived from sea anemone venom that she is researching to determine if it could be used as a potential immunotherapy for lupus. The condition affects about 1.5 million Americans, and nearly 90% of those diagnosed are female. Almost all women who get lupus are of childbearing age.

“This could lead to a totally new approach of treating lupus,” Stevens said. “In lupus patients, a particular type of immune cell is overactive. We found that dalazatide can target those overactive effector memory T cells and turn down their activity.” Read full post »

Teen Discovers Talent In Punching Bag After Losing Use Of Legs

Dr. Michael Astion coached Isaac Turnbull in speed bag while the teen was in the Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Unit.

After his all-terrain vehicle crashed near his home in Wasilla, Alaska, in March, Isaac Turnbull had the presence of mind to call his dad. He was okay, he said, except for one thing: He couldn’t feel his legs.

Isaac, 16, soon learned that he had fractured his back and injured his spinal cord. In a split second, he lost the use of his legs.

After three weeks in an Anchorage hospital, Isaac came to Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Unit to continue his recovery and begin to learn the skills he would need to live in a wheelchair.

“When he got here he was feeling pretty hopeless — you could see it all over his face,” said occupational therapist Emily Sabelhaus, who worked with Isaac.

The goal of rehabilitation at  is to help patients find a way to get back to the activities they love, Sabelhaus said, but at first Isaac — an Alaska kid who loves to hunt and fish and be outdoors — couldn’t’ imagine how he would do that. He couldn’t see that his life, while different than he expected, could still be fulfilling and happy.

Halfway through his six-week stay on the rehab unit, Sabelhaus asked Isaac if he maybe wanted to punch something. Then she brought in an expert, Dr. Michael Astion, to show him how. Read full post »

Mom Donates a Kidney to a Stranger to Save Her Son as Part of a Life-Saving Kidney Chain

Nigel Dalton 008Belinda Hudson would do anything for her 18-year-old son, Nigel Dalton. So when he needed a kidney, she didn’t hesitate to offer one of her own.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t a match.

“I always thought I’d be able to give him mine,” said Hudson. “I’m his mom. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t a match. I felt so helpless.”

She was, however, a perfect match for someone else, a complete stranger. So again, without hesitation, she offered her kidney, and in return her son found a match as well.

And so, through the National Kidney Registry, a chain of six people and three kidneys was formed, all linked together by the gift of life. Read full post »

From 35 Percent Chance of Survival to Five Years Cancer-Free, Double Stem-Cell Transplant Improves Outcomes for Kids With High-Risk Neuroblastoma

Katie Belle, now 10 years old, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma when she was 3.

Katie Belle, now 10 years old, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma when she was 3.

In August of 2009, when Katie Belle was just 3 1/2 years old, a persistent fever led her to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department where doctors discovered a baseball-sized tumor in her abdomen. She was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a cancer that starts in immature nerve cells and develops into tumors. Her chance of survival: 35%.

“I felt like someone stuck a dagger in my stomach,” said Katie’s mother, Jennifer Belle. “I couldn’t breathe. However, I had to put on a brave face for Katie.”

For children with high-risk neuroblastoma, which according to the National Cancer Institute occurs in approximately one out of 100,000 children, Katie’s prognosis was not uncommon. On average, less than 50% of children with this disease live five or more years after diagnosis.

However, a Phase 3 trial performed by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), and led by Seattle Children’s oncologist Dr. Julie Park, has found that adding a second autologous stem-cell transplant, which is a transplant that uses the patient’s own stem cells, to standard therapy improves outcomes for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. Read full post »

Doughnut Shop Tip in Texas Leads Family to Immunotherapy Cancer Trial, Zane Becomes Cancer-Free

“As a parent, you never want to hear that your child has cancer,” said Paul Esposito, of Plano, Texas. “It creates an emotion that starts at your feet and takes hold. It’s devastating.”

This was the terrible news Paul and his family received in 2010 when his son, Zane Esposito, was only 7 years old. Zane, now 12, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in June 2010. Zane underwent three grueling years of cancer treatment, including 365 days of chemotherapy, before reaching remission. Two years later, Zane relapsed in January of this year. Their only option: another three years of aggressive chemotherapy.

“I really don’t like chemo, it’s the worst,” said Zane. “My back hurt super bad due to tiny fractures from the chemo. I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes. And here I was having to start another three years all over again.”

Not only was the thought of starting over daunting, but Zane faced a major hurdle as he began chemotherapy – his cancer was not responding to the treatment. He had refractory ALL. Zane and his family were desperate for another treatment option.

About 2,000 miles away in Seattle, Wash., they would find that other option. But first, they would learn about it in the most unlikely place: a doughnut shop. Read full post »

Layers of Protection for Safe Water Fun

On the heels of the opening day of fishing season in late April, came the opening day of boating season and the start of the swimming season in May. With all of these water activities under way, it’s important that families understand how to keep their children safe.

In honor of National Water Safety Month, On The Pulse is shining the spotlight on water safety because every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of those that pass away, about two are children. In Washington state, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and teens age 1 to 17.

“Staying safe while in, on or around the water requires using layers of protection,” said Dr. Linda Quan, an emergency physician and drowning expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It’s not enough to have your child take a series or two of swim lessons when they’re in preschool. More skills and more attention are needed to help make your family’s time around the water safe and fun.”

Read full post »