Patient Stories

All Articles in the Category ‘Patient Stories’

Clowning around brings joy to patients and families

Victoria Millard, left, and Linda Severt, right, captivate patient Karsten Hendricks, 2, with music and bubbles (courtesy of John Curry Photography)

Victoria Millard, left, and Linda Severt, right, captivate patient Karsten Hendricks, 2, with music and bubbles (courtesy of John Curry Photography)

If you happen to stroll through Seattle Children’s Hospital’s medical or surgical unit on a Tuesday, you’ll notice something’s a little different – the air feels a little lighter. You’ll likely hear sounds of music and laughter flowing through the halls, and you may even encounter a juggling act.

The spirits of patients, families and staff are a little brighter on this day because of a couple of clowns. No really – a few actual clowns that are a part of the Room Circus Medical Clowning group.

Hanging out with the clown posse

I was recently lucky enough to get a chance to tag along with a few of the clowns during their visit at the hospital. In spending the day with Victoria Millard (aka Dr. LaFoo), who is executive artistic director of the group, and Linda Severt (aka Dr. Hamsterfuzz), who is the program manager, I witnessed firsthand the joy they brought to everyone they encountered – patients, parents and staff alike.

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Research study asks: Could mothers be key to ADHD treatment?

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From left: Christina, Lance and Justin Hughes.

As a child, Christina Hughes had trouble paying attention in school. She was criticized for her outbursts in the classroom and constantly forgot her homework. Doctors diagnosed her with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but her symptoms were never relieved by therapy. Her academics and social life suffered.

“It was always hard for me to make friends, and the ones I did make weren’t the best influence,” Hughes says.

Thirty years later, Hughes is raising two sons with similar behavioral challenges. Justin, 9, is especially impulsive and emotional. Two years ago, he had a fit and began punching himself in the face. He has been bullied and suspended from school for fighting.

Justin was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 2012. Read full post »

In need of a heart transplant after birth, Gabrielle is now a healthy toddler

Gabrielle 3yrs #2In honor of American Heart Month, we are sharing Gabrielle’s incredible journey from sick baby to healthy toddler.

Christen Simon was 18 weeks into her third pregnancy when a routine ultrasound revealed the unthinkable: a serious birth defect. The daughter that Christen and her husband would call Gabrielle would need a heart transplant soon after birth.

“At that point I was in shock,” said Simon. “I didn’t know heart defects existed before that point in time. It wasn’t even in my scope of possibilities, not for my daughter.” Read full post »

Heart problems sidelined Nobi, but Seattle Children’s got her back in the game

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In honor of American Heart Month, we are sharing a series of stories about some of our incredible heart patients who have overcome the odds.

Nobi Johnson was a seemingly healthy, charismatic and extremely athletic 13-year-old girl. She excelled at sports and was a star on the basketball court and soccer field. There was nothing she couldn’t do if she put her mind to it, which made the diagnosis of an anomalous coronary artery difficult to understand. Sports were out of the question, due to the unforeseen heart defect. How would Nobi find her happiness again? It would take over a year, but Nobi would find herself back on the court, thanks to her determination to play again and Seattle Children’s and Mary Bridge Children’s Regional Cardiac Surgery Program. Read full post »

From hopeless to cancer free

AmainLast fall, 20-year-old Milton Wright III was given a death sentence. Today, he is expected to live a long, healthy life. This is the incredible story of how two determined researchers and the parents of a young boy came together to save him.

On Sept. 18, 2013, 20-year-old Milton Wright III walked into Seattle Children’s Hospital and received some devastating news.

Leukemia. Again. The third time in his young life, to be precise.

Wright wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. He had been worried his cancer was back and went to the hospital alone to avoid worrying his mom and three younger siblings. Still, the news was paralyzing.

“I really felt like I was coming up in the world,” he said. “I thought I was done with cancer.”

Then the news got worse. Wright’s leukemia had become resistant to chemotherapy. A bone marrow transplant could cure his cancer, but he would have to be in remission first, and that couldn’t happen without chemotherapy. His chances of survival were dismal. Read full post »

Connecting face-to-face and heart-to-heart

ethan_hoodie_webThe heart that connects Rachel Cradduck to a family in Mexico was transplanted into her son Ethan Robbins at Seattle Children’s Hospital when he was just five months old. It came from a baby who died in a California hospital after her family traveled there for medical care.

“A heart transplant is a bittersweet thing,” says Rachel. “During Ethan’s transplant and every day since, I have been deeply aware that another family suffered a tragic loss. I wanted to thank them for the incredible thing they did.”

Rachel had her chance last fall – about a year and a half after Ethan’s transplant – through a unique video teleconference arranged by Seattle Children’s Heart Center and Telemedicine teams at Children’s, and on the other end by Sierra Donor Services (SDS), the Sacramento-based organ procurement organization that helped facilitate the transplant. Read full post »

Healing hearts: How Seattle Children’s and a simple newborn screening test saved my son

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Chrissy Ehlinger had a very normal pregnancy, so when her son Carter was born she had no concerns about his health. He was beautiful and perfect and looked like any healthy baby should. It wasn’t until a simple, inexpensive and non-invasive newborn screening test called pulse oximetry screening revealed the unthinkable.

Pulse oximetry testing is not required in every state, even though it is recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Fortunately for Chrissy, the hospital where baby Carter was born elected to do pulse oximetry testing on newborns. Here, Chrissy recounts how that decision saved her little boy’s life. Read full post »

Breathing device transforms patient’s quality of life by improving health & mobility

Nicky, right, before he went to his prom this year.

Over the past two years, 17-year-old Nicky Richens’ life has transformed. He has found independence and a sense of freedom that he has never before known thanks to a small, discrete device called a phrenic nerve stimulator.

Nicky was born with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS), a rare disorder that affects the autonomic nervous system and causes kids to essentially forget to breathe. Those that have this condition require 24-hour ventilatory support. The phrenic nerve stimulator, or pacer, can be concealed underneath clothes, provides up to 16 hours/day of breathing support and allows patients to be fully mobile.

“Pacers enable kids to get the health benefits of constant, proper oxygenation and ventilation without looking different or being restricted by it, which is huge in the life of a child,” said Maida Chen, MD, director of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center. “With pacers, kids go on to have very meaningful lives because they are healthier, they feel better and they are free to participate in their life.”

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Patients say good luck to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks

Quick FamilyEvery Tuesday, Russell Wilson, the Seahawk’s star quarterback, stops by Seattle Children’s Hospital to lift the spirits of patients and families. In honor of Wilson’s weekly visits, Seattle Children’s made every Tuesday Blue Tuesday at the hospital. It’s the brightest and bluest day of the week at Seattle Children’s.

Today, as Wilson and the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s big game, patients and families at Seattle Children’s wanted to continue the Blue Tuesday tradition with a few words of encouragement. Wilson has been such an inspiration to patients and families at Seattle Children’s, they wanted to give a little inspiration of their own in return. From some of Seattle’s loudest and proudest fans, “Go Hawks!” Read full post »

Researchers look forward to 2014: Preventing cleft lip

Jessica Schend, now 17, was born with a cleft lip and palate. She has been treated at the Seattle Children's Craniofacial Center her entire life.

Jessica Schend, now 17, was born with a cleft lip and palate. She has been treated at the Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center her entire life.

In 2014, the Seattle Children’s Research Institute will implement life-saving projects, begin new studies to keep children safe and continue searching for ways to prevent and cure diseases that threaten some of our youngest patients. We are celebrating the New Year by highlighting some of the work that has researchers excited about 2014.

Cleft lip is one of the most common facial malformations in the world, affecting one in 700 children. Still, few researchers focus on this condition. But craniofacial scientist Timothy Cox, PhD, is leading efforts at Seattle Children’s Research Institute to determine how cleft lip might be prevented in the future.
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