Patient Stories

All Articles in the Category ‘Patient Stories’

Looking beyond face value: How one patient learned to embrace herself

At age 4, Natalie Merlo was diagnosed with a facial condition that left her feeling self-conscious and very different from other people.  While growing up, she even avoided having her photo taken.  Through the work with her care team at Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center, Natalie has gained confidence, has happily accepted who she is and has a powerful message for others – “it’s OK to be different.”

Natalie, now 18 years old, recently entered college with a new facial structure and a new outlook on life after completing two major surgeries. For most of her life, Natalie lived with a severe under bite and deep, wide-set eyes and cheek bones, as a result of a genetic condition called Crouzon Syndrome. While her features were typically brushed off by strangers, it still affected the way she thought about herself.

“These differences were things other people glazed over, and didn’t really notice at first glance,” said Natalie. “But to me, they were so unfortunately obvious. I wish I could say that I didn’t let these things phase me, but that was far from the truth.”

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Visit with Macklemore helps 6-year-old heart patient recover

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Courtesy Jordan.Nicholson.Photography.

AJ Hwangbo was a happy-go-lucky 6-year-old without a worry in the world until mid-November when he developed a life-threatening heart condition. While specialists at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped AJ heal physically, the young boy struggled to bounce back emotionally. But, AJ’s joyful spirit returned after hospital staff arranged for him to meet his hero – local artist Macklemore.

“The luckiest or unluckiest boy”

Before he became ill, AJ’s mom Yoo-Lee Yea said he was an especially social first-grader and a frequent jokester. But on the morning of Nov. 12 he was quieter than usual. Later that day AJ threw up at school and by the evening he had a high fever. AJ’s primary care doctor said he likely had a virus and should feel better in a few days. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s to speed up medical research with national network

research_fileThe faster medical research moves the more quickly cures can be found for countless children’s diseases. But one of the greatest delays researchers face when trying to solve medical problems is finding enough patients to study.

“Enrolling patients in a clinical trial to study a rare condition could take years,” said Mark Del Beccaro, MD, a researcher and vice president of medical affairs at Seattle Children’s.

But now a federally funded non-profit has awarded Children’s and seven other pediatric hospitals funding to create a national network of patient data with the goal of speeding up medical research and improving patient care. Read full post »

Santa visits Children’s to spread Christmas cheer

SantaVisit2013 014Being sick is never fun for a child, and spending time in a hospital can be especially difficult for families during the holidays. Children sometimes wonder if Santa will be able to find them come Christmas day. But at Seattle Children’s, there’s no need to worry. Every year, Santa makes a very special visit to Children’s – it’s one of his favorites stops along his Christmas route!

With Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and Rudolph all safely parked atop the roof, Santa spreads Christmas cheer for all to hear, his jolly laugh echoing through the halls of Children’s. And thanks to Santa’s trusty elves, every child receives a present chosen just for them. It’s just one of the many ways Children’s helps families feel more at home for the holidays and cope with being in the hospital on Christmas. Read full post »

Patients at Children’s pick perfect presents in the playroom

BreannaClose_webOnce a year, the patient playroom at Seattle Children’s transforms. Usually it’s a place for patients to have fun and play with toys and games. But last Thursday, volunteers and Child Life staff members turned the room into every kid’s fantasy – a toy store where absolutely everything is free.

Every holiday season, Children’s partners with the Starlight Children’s Foundation to host this holiday shopping party for patients.

It’s just one of the many ways Children’s helps kids and their families cope with being at the hospital during the holidays. Read full post »

Sophie gets a new heart and perspective on life after 40 days and 40 nights

SophieSCHThe holiday season is a time where family and friends come together and often reflect on what they are most thankful for. It’s a time of celebration and joy, and for some, it’s also a time to give back.

For 17-year-old Sophie Kuniholm, this time of the year is a combination of all those things. She’s thankful for her health, the support of her family and the ability to give back to others. But most importantly, she’s thankful for her heart, both literally and metaphorically. Read full post »

Richard Sherman surprises kids at Children’s with a special visit

Sherman&FamilyLast night, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and his brother Branton Sherman surprised patients, families and staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital with a very special visit. Unable to attend “Blue Tuesday,” Sherman said he didn’t want to miss out on seeing the kids. He drove to the hospital right after practice with his brother in toe to pass out Seahawks pillow pets.

Just as patients, families and staff at Children’s thought they couldn’t get any louder and prouder to be a part of the 12th man, Sherman proved why Seattle is home to the best and most generous team in the NFL. Our 12th man flag is proudly waving at the entrance of the hospital for all to see. Go Hawks!

 

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Patients say thanks to Russell Wilson and Ashton Wilson in their own special way

Patients, families and staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital surprised Russell and Ashton Wilson with a very special gift this week to say thank you for all they do for the hospital. We wanted to share with you the story behind our “thank you.”

Every Tuesday at Seattle Children’s Hospital something miraculous happens. Walk through the halls adorned with woodland creatures and colorful murals and you will see a common, unexpected theme emerge among patients, families and staff – the color blue.

Blue Friday may be the day Seattle’s 12th man showcases their Seattle Seahawk pride, but at Children’s, every Tuesday is Blue Tuesday. Read full post »

Benson’s miraculous journey from micro-preemie to on-the-move toddler

The Borgen familyYears ago I was listening to a radiothon for Seattle Children’s Hospital while driving in my car. I was so moved by the patients’ stories of hope and healing, I had to pull into a parking lot because I was crying so hard. I called the number and made a donation – never dreaming that I would have more than a “goodwill” relationship with the hospital.

Fast forward to 2012.

I heard that same radiothon in the car. My eyes swelled with tears and my throat tightened, this time because my newborn son was one of those patients in a bed at Children’s.

My name is Breanna Borgen. They say life can turn on a dime and that was certainly true for my husband, Erik, and me.

Early in our first pregnancy all seemed to be going well when I very unexpectedly went into labor at 25 weeks. Though my doctors did everything they could to stop my delivery, our son Benson was born almost four months early on Sept. 11, 2011, at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). He weighed a pound and a half, measured 11 inches long and immediately received a breathing tube because he couldn’t breathe on his own.

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Jennifer’s story of struggle and hope after twin boys born at just 24 weeks

In honor of World Prematurity Day this Sunday, Nov. 17, Jennifer Sinconis shares her twin boys’ incredible struggle and journey after being born at just 24 weeks, each weighing only about a pound.

Aidan and Ethan todayI remember finding out I was pregnant. My husband and I had just started trying, and we couldn’t have been happier. I also remember the shock when I found out I was carrying twins – identical twin boys. My pregnancy was pretty easy and uneventful. I was young and healthy, so we really didn’t have any major concerns. Looking back, that shows exactly how naïve I was of the potential complications that can come during a pregnancy.

The day that I hit 24 weeks I ended up being rushed to the ER. My placenta had detached, I was hemorrhaging and my boys were on their way. The doctors tried unsuccessfully to stop the labor. I remember asking my OB-GYN what this meant. What would happen if my children were born this early?  His response was simply, “It’s not good.”

Born 16 weeks premature, Aidan weighed 1 pound, 14 ounces and Ethan weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. Neither one was breathing when they were born. The doctors were able to resuscitate Aidan fairly quickly, but Ethan took about five minutes. His throat was so tiny that they had a hard time getting the ventilator tube in.

My world shattered. I was not able to move after my emergency C-section, and it was over 24 hours before I was allowed to see my boys. I remember the panic in my mom’s face that evening – she was sure that I would miss the opportunity to see them alive.

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