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New Use of Old Surgical Tool Transforms Brooklyn’s Life

Brooklyn Clasby, now 10 years old, received a Potts shunt at the age of 8.

In February 2010, Jennica Clasby knew something was wrong when her 3-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, said she needed to sit down because her “heart hurt.”

“I thought it was really odd to hear that coming from a 3-year-old,” Clasby said. “I sat her down on my lap, put my hand over her heart and I was terrified to feel that it was practically pounding out of her chest.”

Clasby and her husband Brandon, who lived in Colorado, rushed Brooklyn to the emergency room where they were shocked to learn she was in heart failure. Brooklyn was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), or high blood pressure in the lungs. PH is a chronic condition that occurs when the muscle in the wall of the blood vessels and arteries in the lungs thickens and cannot properly expand to receive blood coming from the heart. This causes resistance to the heart, which then works harder to pump the blue blood in need of oxygenation into the lungs. Over time, the strain on the heart can cause it to fail.

“Our world was turned upside down,” Clasby said. “It’s incredibly hard to hear that your daughter has an incurable, lifelong disease that will progressively get worse. It changed the way we lived and gave us a new appreciation for life.”

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Researchers Find Possible Key to Limiting Side Effects From T-Cell Immunotherapy

Dr. Rebecca Gardner, oncologist and lead investigator for Seattle Children's T-cell immunotherapy trial for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Dr. Rebecca Gardner, oncologist and lead investigator for Seattle Children’s PLAT-02 trial.

T-cell immunotherapy continues to take center stage as one of the most promising new cancer therapies of our time. After receiving the therapy, which reprograms a person’s own T cells to detect and destroy cancer, 93% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who enrolled in Seattle Children’s Pediatric Leukemia Adoptive Therapy (PLAT-02) trial and were unlikely to survive, achieved complete remission. Some are still in remission now more than two years out from the therapy.

This is a message that Dr. Rebecca Gardner, oncologist and lead investigator for the PLAT-02 trial at Seattle Children’s, will be underscoring in her abstract presentations at The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. However, she will also highlight that there is still work to be done, and will present a possible answer to one of the most challenging puzzles facing researchers in the field: How can we limit the possible side effects of the treatment while retaining the effectiveness of the T cells?

“We are in a pivotal time where we know this therapy works in getting patients who are very sick into remission, but now we’re focusing on how to improve the treatment experience, which includes limiting the possible side effects,” said Gardner. “Our latest results mark an exciting milestone where we have potentially found the key to better controlling the body’s reaction to the T cells while still ensuring efficacy.” Read full post »

Tumor Paint Brings Light to Toddler’s Brain Tumor

Hunter Coffman, 2, with his family.

Hunter Coffman, 2, with his family.

In December of last year, Laura Coffman began to notice that something wasn’t quite right with her 2-year-old son, Hunter. He was leaning to one side and seemed to lose his balance easily. When he became lethargic and started vomiting a few days later on Dec. 28, she knew it was time to see the pediatrician.

After all standard tests came back normal, they were sent to Seattle Children’s for further testing and to find an answer. Unfortunately, it was far worse than anything Coffman could have imagined.

“What I thought was probably just Hunter being a wobbly toddler with a virus turned out to be a brain tumor,” said Coffman. “I will never forget that day. It was the most traumatic six hours of our lives.” 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 »

Vaccines Save Lives

Mother and Her Daughter

Mother and Her Daughter

Vaccines save lives. According to the World Health Organization, aside from clean water, the development of vaccines is the most influential public health intervention for improving the world’s health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes immunizations among the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century. It’s clear that diseases that once made children ill, and all-too-often took their lives, have been eliminated or greatly reduced thanks to the emergence of safe and effective vaccines.

“Vaccines are one of the most impactful public health successes of our time,” said Dr. Danielle Zerr, head of Infectious Disease at Seattle Children’s. “In the beginning of the 20th century, infectious diseases took an enormous toll on the population. Now, we can protect our children and the community with safe vaccines, and we’ve seen incredible benefits like the eradication of smallpox, the near elimination of polio and a substantial reduction in the rates of bacterial meningitis.” Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Ranked #10 on Forbes “America’s Best Employers” List for 2016

Seattle Children’s is proud to announce that this week, Forbes ranked the hospital #10 on its list of “America’s Best Employers” for 2016. Seattle Children’s is also the third highest ranked company in the “Healthcare & Social” category.

Other top-ten companies include Google, Costco Wholesale, SAS and JetBlue Airways.

To create the list, Forbes surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. workers employed by companies with more than 5,000 staff members to determine how likely they were to recommend their employer to someone else, and how they felt about other employers in their industry. To view the full list visit,”America’s Best Employers.”

To better understand what makes Seattle Children’s such a special place to work, watch the video above to hear it firsthand from the faculty and staff members who work here.

Six Things to Expect in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Every new mom hopes to have a healthy baby who enters the world right on time. But unfortunately, deliveries don’t always go as planned, and some babies arrive too soon. Preterm birth, which according to the CDC occurs when an infant is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, affects about one out of every 10 infants born in the U.S. each year. Approximately 50,000 of those infants are born very premature, at less than 28 weeks of gestation.

Sarly Dickinson knew there was a chance her little boy may come early due to complications she experienced during pregnancy, but she held out hope that he would make it to term. Unfortunately, David entered the world at just 25 weeks. Requiring surgical intervention for hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid builds up in the brain, he was transferred to Seattle Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where he received care for three months. While Dickinson said 25 weeks was much too early, she was thankful David’s birth story wasn’t any scarier.

“My water broke at just 23 weeks and I was terrified because I understood the risks of having a baby that early, including the terrible reality that we may be faced with having to let him go,” Dickinson said. “I immediately went on bed rest and luckily he held out a little longer and arrived two weeks later, weighing a tiny 1 pound, 7 ounces.” Read full post »

Princess Alexis Slays Dragon, Fulfills Wish to Help Other Kids With Cancer

Like many kids, 6-year-old Alexis has big dreams. But while some kids dream about defying gravity as an astronaut, or being the star ballerina in the Nutcracker, Alexis dreams of helping other kids like her and raising awareness of pediatric cancer by sharing her story. And for Alexis, there is no better way to reach other kids than with a cartoon that illustrates her journey.

Thanks to Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington, this past weekend her dream came true. Alexis received the red carpet treatment at the world premiere of her very own cartoon at Cinerama in downtown Seattle. She was the star of the night as her friends, family and many others gathered to watch Princess Alexis slay the mighty dragon, a ferocious symbol that represented her fight with leukemia.

“It was incredible to see her wish come true and we’re just so grateful,” said Alexis’ mom, Angela. “Alexis was all smiles the entire night and felt like a real star who was making a difference. We’ve always known her to be a very brave little girl and now others who don’t know her can see it too.” Read full post »

Healing Through Art

Art therapist Rosalie Frankel with 11-year-old patient Jaylin Israel-Tompson

Art therapist Rosalie Frankel with 11-year-old patient Jaylin Israel-Tompson after completing an art therapy session

Twelve-year-old Selphie Luann Enderle has been in and out of Seattle Children’s Hospital since she was 3 years old for treatment of cystic fibrosis. While the long hospital stays can be difficult, there is one activity that she always looks forward to – her art therapy sessions. The joy these sessions bring her is evident by her reaction to the sight of art therapist Helena Hillinga Haas approaching her hospital room with a colorful cart in tow, overflowing with markers, crayons and construction paper.

“You’re here!” she exclaims as she jumps out of bed, throwing her hands in the air and running to the door. “I’ve been waiting.”

Selphie is one the many patients at Seattle Children’s who benefit from the unique therapy that compliments traditional medicine by providing patients with a creative outlet to express themselves, process emotions and reconnect to the playfulness of childhood. As art therapists, Hillinga Haas and Rosalie Frankel are trained to develop patient’s art skills while also focusing on their emotional needs.

“We work to address the mind-body connection and aid in the healing process by helping our patients relax and express their emotions in an enjoyable way,” said Frankel, who began the art therapy program at Seattle Children’s 15 years ago. “Our goal is always to help our patients find moments of comfort by providing them with this cathartic outlet that also often serves as a welcomed distraction.” Read full post »