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Charlotte’s Journey to Transplant

Photo credit: Kelsey Adrienne Photography.

Janessa Felt watched helplessly as her 2-year-old daughter’s sunny disposition began to fade away. Charlotte’s bright smile and infectious laugh usually hid her struggle well, but that façade was cracking. Charlotte was getting sicker, which was evident by her yellow skin, the silver highlights in her hair and her large distended belly. Her piercing blue eyes were sadder than usual. She laid cradled and uncomfortable in her mother’s arms as fluid built up in her abdomen. Her liver was failing her.

Charlotte was admitted to Seattle Children’s a week earlier. Hospital stays weren’t abnormal for them, but this time was different.

“It is hard to watch your baby be so sick, hooked up to so many machines, and not be able to do anything,” Janessa said. “As a mother, you want to be able to take that pain away.”

Janessa didn’t know how much longer Charlotte would be able to wait for a miracle. She had been on the waitlist for a new liver for year already.

“It wasn’t scary until recently,” Janessa said. “Now, it’s clear she needs a new liver. We just want her to start feeling better. It’s heartbreaking to watch her go through this.” Read full post »

Avery’s Miracle Showed up Wearing Cowboy Boots

On July 10, 2018, Avery Crawford entered the world – a beautiful and seemingly perfect baby girl. Little did anyone know about the battle that was secretly raging in her tiny body as her heart struggled to do its job.

Avery was a miracle to her parents, Elaine and Jordan Crawford. Their 7-year-old son, Quincy, had always wanted a little brother or sister, but doctors said it wasn’t possible. Years went by and they began to lose hope. Then one day, out of the blue, their dream came true. Elaine was pregnant.

“She was a gift,” said Elaine. Read full post »

Ski Day Gives Kids the Opportunity to Hit the Slopes for the First Time

There was one thing that was brighter than 8-year-old Jana Staudenraus’ coral ski jacket and orange helmet as she flew down the mountain at Stevens Pass this weekend on a sit ski: her big smile. As she came to a stop at the bottom of the slope, her family was there cheering, celebrating the first time Jana had ever skied. The exuberant little girl couldn’t wait to do another run. “I want to go again,” she exclaimed. “I want to go fast.”

Another lap down, with her ski instructor tethered behind her, Jana was beaming with joy.

“Did you see me?” Jana asked her mom.

“Yes. You are doing such a great job,” her mother replied.

“I fell once,” Jana said frowning slightly.

“Yes,” her mother said sympathetically. “But just like in life, what do we do when we fall?” she asked warmly. Read full post »

With Cancer in the Rearview Mirror, Miguel Races Full Speed Ahead

Miguel Navarro is finally getting back to doing what he loves most: driving.

“Driving has always been an escape for me,” said Miguel. “It’s where I feel most at home. When you’re driving, you forget everything else around you.”

Miguel’s family and care team supported him in the grandstands of the speedway. They each adorned a shirt that said, “Miguel’s Pit Crew.”

When he was first diagnosed with cancer, Miguel was told he may never be able to drive again. It was a reality he couldn’t comprehend or accept.

“I knew I’d drive again,” said Miguel. “I always knew I’d get through this.”

He promised himself he’d get behind the wheel again, and recently, he realized that dream in a special way, thanks to Seattle Children’s.

In the grandstands of Pacific Raceways, Miguel’s family, along with his care team, beamed with pride at the sight of Miguel zooming around the race track. Adorning t-shirts that read, “Miguel’s Pit Crew,” they cheered him on. Read full post »

Benjamin Steps Into the New Year in a New Leg

Benjamin (Ben) Bronske recently said goodbye to the legion of Stormtroopers who have been with him since his first small steps. For many parents, a child’s growth is charted by a simple mark etched on a door frame. For Ben, his growth will be commemorated by a different kind of memento, one of resin and carbon fiber.

Ben recently outgrew his first prosthesis and welcomed a new gaggle of fictional Star Wars characters to walk by his side – porgs. Saying farewell to Ben’s first prosthesis wasn’t easy for Sarah Bronske, Ben’s mother. It signified a major milestone. Read full post »

One Family’s Message to Others, ‘Everyone is Unique’

Malia Juarez and her husband were over the moon with excitement when they found out they were pregnant. Their journey to get there hadn’t been an easy one. Juarez suffered from endometriosis, and so heartbreaking words like infertility had been discussed.

They dreamed of the pitter patter of little feet running through their home, and of holding small hands as they embarked on adventures.

They dreamed of that future, until one day, their dream came true.

“She’s a miracle,” said Juarez. Read full post »

Mother Thanks Donor Who Saved Her Baby One Year Ago

A year ago, baby Titus Sickles was fighting for his life. In need of a new heart, doctors didn’t know if he was going to make it to transplant. Patiently and desperately, the family waited on the transplant list, watching as their newborn baby’s heart failed before their eyes.

“I knew he wasn’t doing good,” said Rena Sickles, Titus’ mother. “I totally lost it emotionally and said, ‘He’s sick of fighting and I can’t make him do it anymore. So, when he’s ready to go, we’ve just got to let him.’ That’s a really hard thing to to be okay with.”

Today, Sickles said you would never know by looking at Titus what he’s been through. He’s is a happy, healthy 1-year-old thanks to a gift Rena says she can never repay – a new heart.

“There are no words to express how grateful we are,” said Sickles. “It’s a miracle he’s here today. We make the most of every moment we have with him because we know they’re not promised.” Read full post »

Helping Families Navigate the Digital World

Digital devices like the iPad have only been around for about 10 years, but in that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life and research examining their impact on young children is limited.

Tune into 60 Minutes this Sunday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. ET/PT as Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, discusses with Anderson Cooper the evolving digital age children are growing up in today and how his research hopes to uncover the impact this new era has on a child’s developing mind.

It may seem as though digital devices and touch screens like the iPad have been around for decades, but the reality is that these devices have only been around for about 10 years. In that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life, but research on their impact is limited. What concerns researchers like Dr. Dimitri Christakis is that we don’t yet understand the effects these devices may have on young children, and so that’s why they’ve taken center stage in many of his research studies.

Christakis isn’t advocating for taking screens away from children. He simply hopes he can help parents and caregivers better understand and navigate how devices like the iPad can fit into their lives in a healthy way.

“The point isn’t that we should take away all digital devices, but rather that we should come at it from a different perspective,” said Christakis. “We should ask, ‘How can we help children live healthy lives in a digital world that they’re immersed in from birth?” Read full post »

Dr. Grey Saves the Day for Teen with Down Syndrome

Savannah Miller, 17, poses with nurse practitioner Lindsey Thomsen, who dressed up as Dr. Grey from the popular television show to make Savannah’s dream of meeting the fictional doctor a reality.

Doctor appointments aren’t usually a fun experience for 17-year-old Savannah Miller who was born with Down syndrome. Usually, trips to the hospital are accompanied with a fair share of reluctance and anxiety. During a recent trip to Seattle Children’s, however, that all changed thanks to Lindsey Thomsen, a pediatric nurse practitioner in the pre-anesthesia clinic at Seattle Children’s, who went above and beyond her usual duties. Thomsen was inspired by one of Savannah’s favorite television shows to turn a trip to the doctor into an unforgettable experience for Savannah and her family.

Savannah has been a patient at Seattle Children’s since she was a baby, undergoing her first open heart surgery at only 3 months old. Hospital stays and check-ups have been a large part of Savannah’s life, which understandably can cause some unease. That was the case when Thomsen first met Savannah a few weeks ago. They were meeting to talk about an upcoming procedure.

“It was a challenge just to get her in the door that day,” said Jill Miller, Savannah’s mother.

Savannah was visibly upset and refused to have her vitals taken. Getting through the appointment was a struggle, but eventually Savannah warmed up to Thomsen.

“Will you be there?” Savannah asked Thomsen, referring to the day of the procedure. Read full post »

Miguel’s Journey to Take Back the Wheel After Cancer Diagnosis

Miguel Navarro, 18, was blindsided by a cancer diagnosis. Today, he’s on the road to recovery.

A single blow to 18-year-old Miguel Navarro’s shoulder turned his world upside down. He was boxing with his friends one afternoon when he felt a snap. He took a hit to his shoulder and immediately knew something was wrong.

“That punch altered my world,” said Miguel.

Miguel went to the emergency room where he found out he fractured his humerus, the long bone in the upper arm. Unfortunately, that wasn’t where his medical journey ended. While undergoing imaging, doctors noticed something amiss, and so Miguel underwent a myriad of tests. At the time, doctors thought what they saw in his imaging results could be a benign tumor.

On Dec. 12, 2017, Miguel was told the tumor wasn’t benign. He had osteosarcoma, an aggressive type of bone cancer. Read full post »