Archive for October 2012

Monthly Archive

Seattle Children’s Cancer Patient Presents “Haunting: A Head” – A Halloween Video

10-year-old Jenna Gibson, a Maple Valley, Wash. resident, has been a patient at Seattle Children’s since she was initially diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia earlier this year.

While staying at the hospital’s cancer care inpatient unit recently, she had the idea to create for her friends and family a video entitled: “Haunting: A Head” – all in the spirit of Halloween fun.

In the video, Jenna, hidden beneath a magical hospital robe that makes everything but her head invisible, can be seen on a spooky hijinks across the floor.

“I wanted to show some of the things that were frustrating but kind of funny about being in the hospital,” said Jenna. “And I wanted to use only my head because it seemed mysterious.”

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Gene Repair Breakthrough Led by Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Imagine a prowler casing a neighborhood, looking for a way into a home. That’s essentially what HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, does:  It moves through the bloodstream trying to gain entry to T-cells — the primary warrior of the immune system. A special receptor on the T-cell’s surface (called CCR5) is the open door it seeks. Once it gains entry, the virus hampers a T-cell’s ability to do its job, leaving people vulnerable to infection and disease — and enabling HIV to spread.

Now imagine you can lock that door forever. The virus can’t enter the T-cells and interfere with the immune system and the body can fight off the infection.

Drs. Dave Rawlings, Andy Scharenberg and a team at Seattle Children’s are getting close to making that vision a reality. Working with colleagues at University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium, they have figured out how to modify genes and knock the CCR5 receptor off T-cells.

Dr. Dave Rawlings, Dr. Andy Scharenberg (right)

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Tips for a Fun and Safe Halloween

Some would say Halloween has always been scary.

It was first called “All Hallows’ Eve,” and people believed that there were no barriers separating the world of the living from the world of the dead. As a result, many locked themselves in their homes because they feared that ghosts and demons were roaming the streets. If people absolutely had to go out, they disguised themselves in costumes.

Halloween has become a lot more fun today, peppered with costumes, sweet treats and community events.

But, if you’re a parent, it can still generate some anxiety.

To help ease any worry, Seattle Children’s would like to share some guidelines  to help you and your child have a fun and safe Halloween.  Watch the video above for additional tips and treats.

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New Procedure Improves Life for Children with Hydrocephalus

Kristin Crow got a big surprise when her little bundle of joy arrived prematurely while she was visiting family in Texas in November 2011. She gave birth to her son, Skyler Crow, who was born at 28 weeks, weighing just two pounds, seven ounces.

When in utero, Skyler had been diagnosed with ventriculomegaly, or enlarged ventricles in the brain, and he developed hydrocephalus soon after he was born while in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Texas.

Hydrocephalus is one of the most common congenital conditions in children, affecting 1 in 500 to 1,000 births. It is a condition where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) doesn’t reabsorb properly in the brain, causing a harmful build-up. This can cause problems with the development and function of a child’s brain, and without treatment, hydrocephalus can be deadly.

The traditional treatment for hydrocephalus is surgery to implant a shunt, or a small tube, that drains spinal fluid from the brain ventricles down to the abdomen where it is absorbed. Doctors told Kristin and her husband that a shunt was their only treatment option.

“I was terrified as shunts come with a lot of risks,” said Kristin. “There’s a high rate of infections, complications and we would be in the NICU for a very long time, possibly more than five months.”

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Do You Really Need a Flu Shot Every Year?

The answer is yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. 

Vaccine vials

The influenza virus constantly mutates, changing its shape and structure each and every year to survive. Therefore, in order to effectively be protected against the virus, the composition of the vaccine also changes each year. The newly formulated vaccine then adds to the immunity built up from receiving the shot in previous years.

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