On the Pulse

Makenna Raises $25K to Provide Safe X-Rays to Kids Like Her

Longtime Seattle Children’s patient Makenna Schwab excitedly waits to cut the the ribbon off the low dose radiation X-ray machine she raised $25,000 for.

Patients at Seattle Children’s are benefiting from yet another fundraising project from 14-year-old Makenna Schwab, whose fearless determination in raising thousands of dollars has allowed the hospital to purchase a special X-ray machine to help treat other kids like her.

To celebrate Makenna’s latest fundraising project, which collected $25,000 for the purchase of a 3D low dose radiation X-ray machine called the EOS, Seattle Children’s threw her a heartfelt thank you party. At her celebration, there was no shortage of smiles, laughter and hugs — all for one special teen whose enthusiasm to give is boundless.

“This was more than I ever expected,” said Makenna. “It was so great seeing everyone who has supported me over the years in one room. It made me feel really special.”

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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 »

Grateful for the Family Who Saved Her Son, One Mother Reflects on Organ Donation

A year ago, On the Pulse shared the harrowing story of 8-month-old Lincoln Seay. Lincoln was born with heterotaxy syndrome, a severe birth defect that caused his heart to develop on the opposite side of his body. In order to survive, he needed a heart transplant.

In November of last year, Lincoln was placed on the transplant list, but as each day passed, his condition continued to worsen and doctors questioned if he would make it to transplant.

“We had a list of patients and he was the one we were most concerned about,” said Dr. Michael McMullan, surgical director of heart transplantation at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »

Rap Artist Desiigner and Love Your Melon Deliver Lyrical Encouragement to Kids with Cancer

Rap artist Desiigner and seven-year-old cancer patient Ewan Lill show off their superhero artwork.

On Monday, patients in Seattle Children’s Cancer Unit were given the special opportunity to meet a rap superstar and collect some stylish swag from Love Your Melon, an apparel brand that has given more than 90,000 hats to kids battling cancer and over $2.6 million to support pediatric cancer research.

After wrapping up his Seattle concert the night before, Desiigner, best known for his Billboard chart-topping song “Panda”, made a surprise pit stop to visit kids at Seattle Children’s. During his visit, Desiigner passed out Love Your Melon hats and met with patients, giving impromptu rap performances and creating colorful superheroes.

“It’s a blessing being able to visit these kids,” said Desiigner. “I want to do what I can to make them happy, and working with Love Your Melon is helping me do that.”

Penny Lees, clinical manager of Seattle Children’s Child Life Department, was thrilled when she learned Love Your Melon and Desiigner wanted to spread their generosity to the hospital’s young cancer patients.

“The work that Love Your Melon is doing to help to raise awareness for childhood cancer is incredibly impactful,” said Lees. “Their interest in coming to the hospital to meet the kids who inspire their mission is a wonderful thing to see.”

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Finding My Village

Kristin Jarvis Adams (back right) found different forms of support when her son Andrew (bottom right) was diagnosed with autism, and then years later when he battled a rare immune disorder. Also pictured are her husband, Jon, and daughter, Hannah.

The proverb that suggests it takes a village to raise a child can be easily adapted for parents facing the various challenges that come with having a child with special needs and circumstances. Parents sometimes need the support of a village. Author Kristin Jarvis Adams shared her experiences with On the Pulse in finding her village when her son, Andrew, was diagnosed with autism and years later, when he was treated and overcame a rare immune disorder at Seattle Children’s and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Adams, who is a member of the Autism Center Guild at Seattle Children’s, tells her family’s story in her book The Chicken Who Saved Us: The Remarkable Story of Andrew and Frightful.

For 10 years my husband and I had been making trips to and from Seattle Children’s with our autistic son, Andrew, who suffered from an unheard of progressive inflammatory disease. Andrew had been in the hospital for months, his body riddled with gaping ulcers, his organs compromised by chronic inflammation. Now we were in the middle of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that were preparing him for an experimental bone marrow transplant. It was our last hope.

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It’s a Messy Topic, but Let’s Talk About Poop

There are a lot of ways to describe it: soft, hard, brown, green, runny and stinky. It’s a messy topic often discussed behind closed doors, but today, we’re breaking down what you need to know about poop – from its color, consistency and frequency, to what to do when a child is backed up.

According to Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington, it can be challenging for some families to be open about the body’s natural process of elimination. In other words, it can be hard to talk about poop. There’s often embarrassment talking about the subject when there shouldn’t be.

“As pediatricians, we get really comfortable talking about poop,” said Grow. “We try to normalize the conversation with patients and families.” Read full post »

Liquid Nicotine and Kids Don’t Mix

March is the month to spring forward with daylight saving time, enjoy the college basketball tournament and renew efforts to prevent poisonings through National Poison Prevention Week. Last March, Dr. Suzan Mazor, medical director of Toxicology at Seattle Children’s, gave advice for how to give and store medicines safely. This year, she’s sharing information on how to prevent childhood poisonings from a newer product – liquid nicotine used in electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs.

E-cigs and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems became available in the U.S. about 10 years ago, and with their arrival came a growing number of calls to poison centers related to nicotine exposures in children. Read full post »

Kenley Snowboards With Prosthetics, Proves if There Is a Will There Is a Way

Kenley Teller, 6, snowboards with two prosthetic legs.

Watch 6-year-old Kenley Teller snowboard down a slope and you’ll notice two things right away: a big smile on her face and her fiery red hair billowing in the wind beneath her helmet. What is not apparent are her two prosthetic legs.

“She’s free when she snowboards,” said Kenley’s mother, Mary Teller. “I don’t want to say she feels normal, because how do you define normal anyway? She may need to do things a little different than other people, but she can still do them. I’m constantly in awe of her.” Read full post »

The Unsung Heroes of the Sidelines

Tara Peerenboom is one of 35 licensed athletic trainers in the Seattle Children’s Athletic Trainers Program.

They are a constant presence on the sidelines of sporting events, but they don’t adorn a jersey or get a trophy at the end of a season. We see them as they spring into action when an athlete suffers an injury. They run onto the field or court and quickly access and care for an athlete writhing in pain, but their time in the limelight is short lived, at least from what we see from the stands.

What you don’t see are the hours athletic trainers spend before, during and after games preparing, rehabilitating or counseling athletes and coaches. And so, in recognition of Athletic Training Month, On the Pulse shadowed Tara Peerenboom, an athletic trainer at Seattle Children’s, to get a behind the scenes look at her role both on and off the field.

“People see us on the sidelines and think of us as the individuals who give water to athletes,” said Peerenboom. “They don’t see the time we spend in the athletic training room before, after and during a game or practice. We’re not just medical providers. Our athletes trust us, and we’re there for them during difficult times. Taping and getting ready for games is a small part of our work.” Read full post »

Care Team’s Casting Creativity Brings Joy to Patients

Maggie Burke, 9, aspires to be an Olympic gymnast.

When 9-year-old Maggie Burke broke her elbow after an unusual landing while vaulting at gymnastics practice, she was concerned her dream may be in jeopardy.

She’s a competitive gymnast with a dream to compete in the 2024 Olympics, and so when she found out her injury would require surgery and a cast, she was feeling anxious. She never needed surgery before and her emergency trip to Seattle Children’s was the Burke family’s first trip to the hospital.

“During surgery prep, the staff found out about Maggie’s passion for gymnastics and her dream,” said Maggie’s mother, Odilia Burke. “We felt greatly supported by kind, caring and knowledgeable people that would soon have our daughter in their hands of expertise. What we weren’t expecting was the surprise we received when Maggie came out of recovery.”

In the operating room, while doctors expertly cared for Maggie’s elbow and set her arm in a cast, a surgical technologist went to work designing something special just for Maggie. It was a small gesture, but just what the doctor ordered. Read full post »