Child Life specialist Amie Lusk blows some distracting bubbles for patient Christian Lybbert on a difficult day while his sister, Izabella, watches.
Amie Lusk couldn’t have known it at the time, but she started on her career path the day she got caught sleeping in the book nook of her fourth grade classroom.
For weeks, she had been hiding her fatigue and sneaking naps in the nook. But that day a classmate found her, woke her up and marched her to the school nurse, who sent her home with a fever.
Lusk’s doctor ordered a blood test, and her mom got an alarming message when the results came in: “Take Amie to the Hematology/Oncology Clinic at Seattle Children’s.”
On March 26, 1992, Lusk, then 10, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). After two years of treatment at Seattle Children’s and a complete recovery, she had two important pieces of self-knowledge: First, she was resilient — if she could bounce back from cancer, she could stare down all manner of other challenges. Second, she wanted to work at Seattle Children’s when she grew up.
“For some people, cancer is the worst thing in the world — it’s horrible and even life-ending,” she said. “For me, it shaped the course of my life.” Read full post »
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 »
Seattle Children’s is launching a pilot with Health123 for a digital program that focuses on follow-up care for transplant patients.
Transplant day is a joyous milestone for children and families who’ve been through a difficult illness. But the healing does not end when the new organ is in place—in fact, that is when the real work begins, according to Dr. Jodi Smith, Medical Director for the Kidney Transplant Program at Seattle Children’s.
“One of the biggest factors in a successful transplant is for the patient to follow a careful regimen afterwards so the new organ can do its job,” said Smith. “Patients often struggle to maintain their health after a transplant and need extensive support.”
To help with this problem, Dr. Smith’s transplant team is working with Dr. Jane Dickerson and Dr. Michael Astion from the Department of Laboratories on a pilot for a digital program from Health123 that focuses on the follow-up care for transplant patients at Seattle Children’s, which has one of the highest-ranked kidney transplant programs in the country. Read full post »
Dr. Yandow poses with Lauren by her bedside at Seattle Children’s.
For a child, having to wear a bulky, fiberglass cast around an arm or leg might not sound like a fun treatment option, especially when they need to wear it for up to six weeks.
So doctors at Seattle Children’s are doing what they can to make the experience a little more fun.
“What color casts would you like?” Dr. Suzanne Yandow, chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s, asked Lauren Huber, 4.
Lauren looked up at Yandow with her big blue eyes, holding tightly to her baby doll, Kiddo, and exclaimed, “Pink!” without hesitation. “But I’d also like a little purple for my twin sister,” Lauren added as she looked at her mom. “Her favorite color is purple, so I want purple. But just a little. I want it to be mostly pink,” she said. Read full post »
Tai Jordan, right, and his mother Carmen Jordan offer tips for how the healthcare system can accommodate transgender youth.
A clinician stepping out and calling a name into a lobby full of waiting patients may seem like no big deal, but for a transgender youth patient waiting for an appointment, it can cut like a knife.
“When a clinician walks into a room, the birth name on your chart is the first thing they call out,” explained Tai Jordan, a 17-year-old transgender youth. Tai, whose birth name is ‘Tairah,’ was born female, but identifies as male. “If you’re not out yet, or you pass as the gender you identify with and use a different name, the clinician has inadvertently outed you in a public space where you should feel safe.”
Seattle Children’s researchers Dr. David Breland and Dr. Yolanda Evans want to better understand the issues that transgender patients and their families face in healthcare. They have launched a survey for parents of transgender youth patients with the goal of better understanding healthcare experiences and barriers. Families who are interested in participating in this research study can send an email by clicking here or call 206-884-1433 to learn more. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and each participant receives a $10 gift card. Read full post »
When I was 16, I spent 10 days at Seattle Children’s in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit (now called the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit, or PBMU).
I fought it. I hated it. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Looking back three years later, I can tell you that those were the most important 10 days of my life. If not for my time at Seattle Children’s, I’d probably be in jail now, or dead.
Everyone on the unit met my resistance with compassion – and somehow, they got through to me. Even though I fought being in their care, they cared for me. They cared about me.
I left Seattle Children’s with medications that helped me and coping skills I still use today. Read full post »
Dr. Abby Rosenberg, medical leader of Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program
Sometimes I hesitate to tell people what I do for a living. This isn’t because I don’t love what I do (I do), but because the idea of kids with cancer seems to make people uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because they think of their own children and feel that urgent need to protect them, coupled with sudden gratitude that their own kids are healthy. Perhaps they think of the heartstring-pulling commercials featuring cute, bald children. Or, maybe they think of melodramatic movies where the patients with cancer always die. Perhaps they relive their own experiences involving older adults, friends or family members who suffered from cancer.
Regardless of their reasoning, the expectation seems to be that pediatric cancer must be sad. And sometimes, it is. But there’s also a lot of hope. So, in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would take this opportunity to share what I think of kids with cancer below. Read full post »
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 »
Jude Xenakis, 10 months, with parents Eden and Michael Xenakis and sister Clementine. Jude came to Seattle Children’s for ECMO when he was born with severe meconium aspiration.
This summer, Seattle Children’s hosted a reunion for patients who have one unique experience in common: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) played in key role in saving their lives. Patients, families, doctors and nurses gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Seattle Children’s use of ECMO, an advanced life-support therapy that can replace heart and lung function when these organs fail or need to rest. ECMO is used for a range of life-threatening medical conditions and complications, and Seattle Children’s has been named a Center of Excellence by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization because of its expertise with technologies such as ECMO.
“Seeing all the kids that ECMO helped save means the world to our doctors and nurses,” said Dr. Michael McMullan, Seattle Children’s Director of Mechanical Cardiac Support and Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS).
Over the past 25 years, Seattle Children’s ECLS program has touched the lives of more than 700 families. Here we share the stories of a few of these patients – from a cheeky baby to a recent law school graduate – who came together to share their experiences and celebrate where they are today. Read full post »
CICU nurse Sherri Kruzner-Rowe with her former patient, Karissa Gossett.
When Seattle Children’s Family Advisory Council opened nominations for the 2015 Family Choice Awards, patients and families responded with more than 200 names – each one belonging to a staff or faculty member who made an indelible impression for all the right reasons.
With great difficulty, the advisory council whittled down the nominations to select four recipients who live and breathe a commitment to family-centered care: Danielle Giles, Sherri Kruzner-Rowe, Jo Ristow and Dr. Kendra Smith. In addition, the graduating residents selected one of their peers – Dr. Amanda Stinger – for the family-centered resident award.
Read on to learn more about the 2015 Family Choice Award winners and what family-centered care means to each of them. Read full post »