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Greyson’s Heart Condition Inspires Family to Give Back

It was during a 20-week ultrasound that Sarah Ouellette got life-changing news: Her baby would be born with a serious heart defect.

“They didn’t know if my baby would survive,” Ouellette said. “But I knew deep down that I wanted to fight for my child’s life.”

Feeling lost, Ouellette sought out a second opinion.

“I contacted Seattle Children’s, and it was there that I learned a lot more about my baby’s diagnosis. They made me feel more at ease.”

Ouellette connected with the Seattle Children’s Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Program, where she was introduced to Dr. Bhawna Arya, director of fetal cardiology, who guided her every step of the way.

Greyson had a diagnosis of pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum, a heart condition where only half of the heart has formed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common types of birth defects, and babies born with these conditions are living longer and healthier lives. CHDs affect nearly 1% of, or about 40,000, births per year in the United States.

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How Reese Discovered a Life Worth Living

When Reese Patterson was in sixth grade, she experienced vicious cyberbullying from several of her peers.

“Every day I would get texts from people who would tell me to kill myself,” Reese said. “When you are told to do that every single day, you actually start to believe it.”

Reese’s mother, Val, recalls trying to work with her school to get the bullying to stop.

“We tried to work with the school, and they said it was out of their hands since it happened outside of the school day,” Val said. “We reported it to police after she overdosed, which became a big joke by some of the kids at school. From there, things got even worse.”

Reese began self-harming through cutting.

“Her school called me when they noticed her cutting,” Val said. “The school suggested I contact Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and we went straight there that afternoon. The social worker felt that Reese’s situation wasn’t serious enough and that she’d learn more dangerous behaviors while inpatient. All we were left with was a list of therapists to call.”

Things continued to unravel, as Reese’s cutting became more severe.

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Simple Ways Kids Can Become Activists in Their Community

In celebration of Black History Month, On the Pulse spoke with Dr. Yolanda Evans, an adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children’s, about simple yet powerful ways we can encourage and teach kids to become activists in their community what this month means to her.

Engage your kids in conversation

It starts with role modeling and engaging in conversation.

“As a family, I encourage having conversations with your kids around differences and embracing differences,” Evans said. “Instead of ignoring or not talking about issues about inequalities and injustices, allow for dialogue and speak in terms appropriate to their age level.”

Evans suggests using books as conversation starters.

Antiracist Baby is a great book,” Evans said. “There are also other kids’ books that highlight African American contributors which are educational and foster positive role models.”

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Baby Battles Fatal Heart Condition and Comes Out Unstoppable

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, Sierra Landman learned she was pregnant with her first child.

“We were so excited,” Landman said. “Then we learned that something wasn’t right with our baby’s heart.”

Nevaeh Landman was born on September 10, 2020 at Madigan Army Medical Center with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where she would stay for the next several days.

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) is when the left side of the heart is not fully developed. It is a rare and serious birth defect. Babies with HLHS need surgery in the first weeks of life. They will have a series of surgeries to redirect blood flow through their heart.

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‘It’s a Beautiful Part of You’: Abby Inspires Others with Celiac Disease

Abby Spaulding, 15, was only 2 years old when she was diagnosed with celiac disease.

As a baby, she had a very sensitive stomach and would throw up frequently.

Abby’s mother brought her to the doctor concerned it was something more than just a simple upset stomach. Her intuition was right. Abby was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage in the small intestine. People with celiac disease respond differently to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

“It didn’t really come as a big shock to my mom,” Abby said. “My uncle had celiac disease, so we knew it ran in the family.”

Back in San Diego, where Abby spent her early childhood, she would go to support groups with her mother to help navigate a new lifestyle that required Abby to eat gluten-free foods only.

“Since I was so young when I was diagnosed, it was a very confusing situation for me,” Abby said. “When we’d go to the store and my mom wouldn’t allow me to pick certain foods, I didn’t understand what was going on. Joining the support groups really helped me better understand what celiac disease was and how I could cope with it.” Read full post »

NFL Player Myles Gaskin Spotlights Youth Mental Health Through ‘My Cause My Cleats’

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Miami Dolphins

During the month of December, NFL players sport a different look on their feet with custom designed cleats aimed to represent a cause that they feel most passionate about.

It was only natural for Myles Gaskin, former University of Washington (UW) Huskies football player, now running back with the Miami Dolphins, to choose a cause that hits close to home in more ways than one.

“Growing up in Seattle, I always knew about Seattle Children’s, so when I was playing for UW, teammates and I decided to visit the hospital a few different times to meet some the kids,” said Gaskin. “The whole experience really opened my eyes to see how much you can impact someone by just giving them your time.”

With Seattle Children’s in mind for his cause, Gaskin wanted to zero in on another issue that deeply spoke to him.

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A Mother’s Ambitious Goal to Raise $1 Million for Cancer Research

Christine O’Connell knows the walls of Seattle Children’s all too well.

In 2017, the O’Connell’s 3-year-old daughter Jane was diagnosed with stage IV Wilms, a pediatric kidney cancer. The cancer had spread to both of her lungs, lymph nodes and a vertebra in her spine. The months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries that changed their lives forever are still vivid memories.

“Radiation and chemotherapy was our only hope to save Jane’s life, but it is so damaging to young, developing bodies. She will suffer the effects of treatment for the rest of her life,” O’Connell said.

Then she learned that Seattle Children’s was pioneering a better way.

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Cultivating a Healthy Environment for Our Children

Dr. Markus Boos and his son plant a tree during an event in March.

In unprecedented times like this, we often reflect on what we as humans can do to better our world. In terms of climate change, there are many ways we can make a difference, whether on a small or large scale, in order to create a sustainable and healthy environment for all.

Seattle Children’s is committed to fulfilling its mission of treating the whole child, and with this comes the responsibility of understanding the facts, sharing our knowledge, and developing ways to combat climate change and the drastic impact it has on our health.

Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, and as an organization, we are striving to minimize our carbon footprint and improve the health and well-being of our patients, families, workforce and our local and global community.

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New Program Helps Families with Mental Health Crises

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

One late afternoon in April, Jessie Early noticed something was wrong her with 7-year-old son, Rohan.

He stopped eating, was withdrawing, and exhibiting suicidal thoughts.

Extremely concerned, Early rushed her son to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department (ED), as recommended by Rohan’s psychiatrist at the time.

Within just a few minutes in the waiting room, Rohan was sent directly to one of the patient rooms for evaluation.

What could have been a stressful and trauma inducing experience for Rohan, Early was pleasantly surprised with the attentiveness and support that the staff provided her son.

“There was always someone there to answer our questions,” Early said. “It made it so we were relaxed and informed. Staff would ask him questions in a respectful and polite way, even though some of questions were difficult for him answer. They were there for us every step of the way.”

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Alyssa Tears Down the Taboo of Having Mental Health Struggles

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Alyssa Scott, 17, is a senior in high school. She’s an honor student, participates in her school’s Model United Nations program and is currently taking college-level classes.

By her positive demeanor and ambitious attitude, you would think she’s just like any regular teen.

But there’s more to Alyssa than meets the eye.

Like many individuals, Alyssa lives with mental health issues.

“Even though people might not see it, I struggle every day,” Alyssa said. “Some days are worse than others, but it’s always there.”

For Alyssa, there’s been many obstacles she’s faced in life that have molded her relationship with her mental health. Yet with her strong sense of will and determination, she’s come to a point in her life where she can keep her struggles at bay.

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