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Helping Kids With Cleft Lip and Palate Thrive

Cleft lip and palate is the most common condition Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center treats.

Finding out your child will be born with a cleft lip and palate can be unexpected and distressing for many families. Plagued with questions, parents may wonder if their child will be able to thrive, have speech issues, or what their smile will look like. Dr. Craig Birgfeld, a craniofacial plastic surgeon at Seattle Children’s, enjoys being able to ease a family’s anxiety. At Seattle Children’s, he knows these families are in good hands.

“When patients come to see us they become part of our family,” said Birgfeld. “To me, the best part of our job is seeing these kids grow up and be completely normal kids. It’s hard to remember them as a baby with a cleft. That’s the true test, and one of the reasons we do what we do.” Read full post »

Ciara and Kelly Rowland Spread Holiday Cheer at Seattle Children’s, Carol With Kids and Deliver Amazon Fires

Photo credit: West2East

Cheerful caroling could be heard through the halls of Seattle Children’s today thanks to two very special guests, Ciara and her friend Kelly Rowland. They surprised patients and families in the inpatient playroom with a holiday concert, accompanied by guitarist Barry Black. But that wasn’t the only surprise they had in store for kids at the hospital. The GRAMMY winners teamed up with Amazon and brought holiday cheer to patients and families in another very big way – with one of the largest Amazon deliveries of the year – a six-foot tall Amazon gift box filled with Amazon Fire HD 7s and Amazon Fire HD 8s for patients at Seattle Children’s.

“Caroling with the kids was the perfect way to brighten up the holidays at the hospital and surprising patients with gifts made it very special,” said Ciara. Read full post »

Ben’s Customized Prosthesis is Out of This World

Ben, 19 months old, shows off his Stormtrooper prosthesis.

With every step 19-month-old Benajmin (Ben) Bronske takes, a legion of Stormtroopers lead his way.

Born into a family of avid Star Wars fans, Ben has become a fan as well. With an infectious smile, while wearing a shirt that says, “I’m a Trooper,” Ben proudly shows off his leg. It was uniquely made just for him – it’s covered in Stormtroopers.

“He’s got a really cool leg and a story to go with it,” said Sarah Bronske, Ben’s mother. Read full post »

Seahawks Visit Seattle Children’s, Spread Cheer to 12s in the Hospital

Nico, 15, got a surprise visit from the Seahawks and Sea Gals.

Today, rounds of a different kind were made. Instead of doctors in white coats, the Seattle Seahawks and members of the Sea Gals, dressed in blue and green, made their way through the hospital to visit patients and families at Seattle Children’s. They couldn’t have picked a better day to bring cheer to 12s in the hospital: Dec. 12 (12/12).

“Today brought us a lot of joy, even if it was just for a minute,” said Alberto Tobias, father of Nico Tobias, a patient at Seattle Children’s. “It was really fun. We were so happy to see the players walk into our room.”

The Captain’s Blitz is an annual tradition that brightens the day for Seahawks fans big and small at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »

Living the Movie Wonder: How 13-Year-Old Nathaniel Found Freedom, Inspires Kindness

Nathaniel Newman and his mother pose for a photo together before Nathaniel undergoes the first in a series of surgeries to allow him to breathe without a tracheostomy for the first time in his life. Watch his incredible journey on ABC 20/20. Photo courtesy of ABC 20/20.

The movie “Wonder,” based on the New York Times bestseller, premiered worldwide today, and although the movie is fictional, the storyline sheds light on a rare craniofacial condition affecting 1 in 50,000 newborns: Treacher Collins syndrome.

“Wonder” weaves together an inspiring tale of kindness, as viewers are transported into the world of August (Auggie) Pullman, an ordinary boy born with an extraordinary face. The story has captured the hearts of millions, but it hits particularly close to home for one Seattle-based family.

Nathaniel Newman, 13, and his family have no trouble relating to the storyline; they live it every day. Nathaniel was born with Treacher Collins syndrome and has been called “Auggie Pullman come to life” by author R.J. Palacio.

Nathaniel knows what it’s like to walk in Auggie’s shoes. His message to others is simple. It echoes that of Auggie: Be kind. Read full post »

Erin Celebrates Major Milestones After One Year in Remission

For the first time in her life, 7-year-old Erin Cross was healthy enough to go trick-or-treating.

This Halloween marked a monumental milestone for 7-year-old Erin Cross. For the first time in Erin’s life, she was healthy enough to go trick-or-treating. And her costume of choice – an old woman – held a special meaning for her family.

Two years ago, Erin’s family was facing the devastating reality that they may never see her grow up. But today, she’s in remission thanks to a groundbreaking immunotherapy clinical trial at Seattle Children’s. Her family finally has the chance to envision her long life ahead, a life filled with normal things, like trick-or-treating and playing with other kids.

“Erin has been so incredibly brave,” said her mother, Sarah Cross. “For us, normal was being in the hospital. Today, she’s cancer-free and getting back to normal life.” Read full post »

Lifelong Seattle Children’s Patient Takes Center Stage, Inspires Others to Believe in Themselves

Cassidy Huff, 15, enjoys recording music.

More than a year ago, 15-year-old Cassidy Huff was celebrating her birthday at Seattle Children’s on the eve of her 39th surgery. She was doing what makes her happiest – singing and playing her ukulele. She performed in front of a small crowd made up of her friends, family and medical team. One of the songs she sang was called “Halo,” a parody of Adele’s popular song “Hello,” and an ode to the metal device around her head that would soon be removed.

“When I’m playing I don’t think,” said Cassidy. “Everything around me disappears, and it’s just me. Music has always been my outlet. It tells a story and gives people an inside look into who I am.”

Today, Cassidy is preparing for another performance, this time for a much larger crowd. She’s working with Grammy-winning composer Mateo Messina on an original song for Messina’s 20th annual Seattle Children’s benefit concert called Epoch. She’ll be performing the song alongside the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in front of nearly 2,500 people at Benaroya Hall. Read full post »

Taylor Overcomes Adversity, Expresses Herself Through Dance

Taylor Haines performs a contemporary dance called “Power of Vulnerability” with another dancer, Vasco Vj Vea.

When 19-year-old Taylor Haines performs, she tells a beautiful story with her body through dance. She leaps, turns and flips across the stage without missing a beat. It’s not until you look a little closer that you’ll notice there’s more to her story than meets the eye. Taylor was born with birth defect called fibular hemimelia, and she has a prosthetic leg.

“Fibular hemimelia is a congenital birth defect that causes complete or partial absence of the fibular bone, the smaller and thinner bone in the lower leg,” said Dr. Vincent Mosca, chief of foot and limb deformities at Seattle Children’s. “It occurs in about one in 40,000 children. These children also have a shortened and bent tibia, the larger and thicker bone in the lower leg, and in many cases, absence of toes on the affected limb. The thigh bone on  is also slightly shorter than the other side. All the other body parts are normal.” Read full post »

From Transplant Patient to Aspiring Transplant Surgeon

Wade Washington underwent a kidney transplant at Seattle Children’s in 2013 and is now a student at the University of Washington with career aspirations of working in healthcare.

Growing up, 19-year-old Wade Washington knew he’d one day need a kidney transplant. The question was never if, but when.

“I never really knew what normal was,” said Washington. “I was born with chronic kidney disease, and so it was what I was used to.”

As a child, Washington’s condition was manageable, but as he grew up his condition worsened. As Washington hit puberty, his kidneys began to fail.

“Wade was born with renal dysplasia, a congenital malformation of his kidneys,” said Dr. Andre Dick, surgical director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Seattle Children’s. “Once he entered puberty, his kidneys couldn’t meet his body’s metabolic demand. We knew he’d need a transplant.” Read full post »

A Life-Saving Transplant Inspires One Family to Give Back

Elliott Kaczmarek, 3, poses with his mother, Nicole, and father, Jonathan.

This April, in recognition of Donate Life Month, On the Pulse shares the story of how a life-altering diagnosis put one family on a philanthropic journey to help others in need.

When Elliott Kaczmarek was 10 months old he came down with what his parents thought was a stomach bug.

“He wasn’t feeling well, but we didn’t think much of it at first,” said Jonathan Kaczmarek, Elliott’s father.

Just in case, the Kaczmarek’s called Elliott’s pediatrician. Initially, there was no cause for alarm. He had a mild fever and threw up a few times, and so their biggest worry at the time was dehydration.

“After a few days he started getting better,” said Nicole Kaczmarek. “Then his condition changed. He turned green and pale and was lethargic. It was then we knew he needed to go the urgent care.” Read full post »