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Seattle Children’s New Autism Center Will Help Advance Care for Families in the Region Thanks to Generous Gift

This past December, Nataly Cuzcueta was brought to tears by a word from her 4-year-old daughter, Kira.

With her little arms outstretched, Kira looked up to her mother and said “up.” It may seem like a simple request, but for Cuzcueta, it was a major milestone and cause for celebration. Immediately and happily, she obeyed. She lifted her daughter into her arms and excitedly twirled around the room, a smile beaming across her face.

“Today has been a day I’ll never forget,” she said.

Miles away at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Mendy Minjarez, director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Early Intervention Program and interim executive director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center at Seattle Children’s, celebrated as well. Cuzcueta had captured the moment on her camera and had sent a note of gratitude to Minjarez and her care team.

“It was monumental for our whole team,” Minjarez said. “I remember getting the email and running down the hall excitedly to tell our team. It’s been a long time coming.”

Today, Cuzcueta says the team at Seattle Children’s Autism Center is like a second family. Her twin daughters have come a long way since they first started receiving treatment more than 2 years ago. 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.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss the evolving digital age children are growing up in. Watch as three families learn more about how their children interact with devices like the iPad and hear about the challenges Christakis faces as technology continues to advance at a much faster rate than our understanding of the impact of digital devices 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,” Christakis said. “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 »

Aliyanna Overcomes the Odds, Celebrates Her Second Birthday with Her Care Team

From the first time Daisy Martinez heard the thumping of her baby’s heartbeat, she was in love. She always wanted to be a mother and hoped for a baby girl. She even had a name picked out: Aliyanna.

When doctors confirmed Martinez was having a baby girl, she was elated. Unfortunately, her joy was short-lived. During an ultrasound 25 weeks into her pregnancy, the ultrasound technician noticed something amiss. A large lump was growing on Aliyanna’s spine. Read full post »

Ciara and DeAndre Bring Holiday Cheer to Seattle Children’s

The joyful sound of caroling could be heard echoing through the halls of Seattle Children’s and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) this week thanks to two very special visitors, Ciara alongside her and Russell’s new music artist DeAndre. They handed out toys and gift cards to patients and families at the hospital and delighted families with classic holiday songs.

“I’m so grateful we got to come and sing for you all today,” Ciara said. “We believe in you and we’re rooting for you,” she added.

In the inpatient playroom at the hospital, patients and families were overjoyed. They sang along, with some children singing at the top of their lungs with huge smiles on their faces, and others dancing happily to the cheerful tunes. Read full post »

Harper Models to Inspire the World: “You’re Beautiful in Your Own Skin”

From day one, Harper Foy has defied the odds. When she was born, she was given a 50% chance of survival. Today, the spunky toddler, who loves to dance, sing and pose for photos, is 4 years old and inspiring many.

“Harper is here for a reason,” her mother, Angie Foy, said. “She’s making a difference in the world.” Read full post »

Sean Graduates from Seattle Children’s and Starts New Adventure

From day one, 21-year-old Sean Gallagher has been able to command a room. He jokes that it’s because he has a flair for the dramatic; it could also be because of his bright and infectious personality.

Sean was born with a facial difference, and his medical journey has been long and complex. MaryJo Gallagher and her husband David knew their son would be born with a small jaw, but the extent of Sean’s condition was beyond what they had envisioned. Immediately after the delivery, Sean was whisked away by a frenzied team of doctors and nurses.

The next couple days were a blur of emotions as the couple grappled with their son’s condition and what it meant for his development. They had many questions, but not nearly enough answers.

Dr. Michael Cunningham, division chief and medical director of Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center, said he’ll never forget the first time he met Sean’s family. Sean was only 2 days old at the time. Cunningham went to visit them at the hospital where Sean was delivered.

“I was standing across the bed talking to Sean’s mom and said, ‘Everything is going to be okay,’” Cunningham said.

MaryJo said she’ll never forget that day either. She said it was like a physical weight had been lifted off their shoulders. They felt hopeful.

“He’s a family hero,” MaryJo said. “He explained to us about Sean’s condition. He knew right away what it was. We were so appreciative of him reassuring us. This is not the road we would have chosen for our little boy, but we are glad we are on it together.” Read full post »

Celebrating a Second Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in South Seattle

For Shameka Cornelius, Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) is more than just a community clinic. To her, OBCC is family.

The clinic provides medical, dental, mental health and nutrition services to all families, regardless of their ability to pay. It also offers a unique model of care that addresses the socioeconomic and environmental roots of illness.

Shameka Cornelius

Shameka Cornelius poses with her three children, Saymirah, Shayrielle and Sy’ier.

Since Cornelius was a little girl, OBCC has been her medical home. From dental visits to well-child check-ups, Cornelius has fond memories of the clinic. She remembers walking from her grandmother’s house just blocks away in Seattle’s Central District to go to clinic appointments. For her, it never felt like going to the doctor. She was always excited to see the smiling faces of her care team.

“I still remember the very first fish tanks they had,” Cornelius said as she laughed. “Those were my first fish. You get your tokens when you go to the dentist and pick out a book after getting your shots. They even had popsicles sometimes.”

Cornelius says above all else, it’s the people that have made OBCC so special to her.

“Everyone should experience that type of service and a clinic of home and togetherness,” Cornelius said. “They actually care at OBCC. Everybody there is really friendly. For me, I wanted my kids to experience the same care that I received. The same people have been there since I was young. You can tell it’s not just work for them; they actually have a passion to be there.” Read full post »

Avery’s Poem Inspires Hope for Children with Cancer

In recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, On the Pulse is sharing a powerful poem written by Avery Berg. Diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor when she was 10 years old, Avery knows all too well about the realities of the insidious disease, but she’s also hopeful for the future – a world without cancer.

Today, Avery is 14 years old. She just started high school, and she has no sign of disease.

Her family’s fight is not over though. They are champions for a brighter future for children like Avery – for hope, care and cures.

Avery, a patient ambassador for It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s, read the below poem in front of 1,700 people at T-Mobile Park on Aug. 18. The event, hosted by the Friends of Costco Guild, raised a record $10.4 million for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »

Lucy’s Travelling Home with a Big Surprise from Seattle Storm’s Alysha Clark

For 7-year-old Lucy Watters, her mother, Nicole Watters, and their family, Seattle Children’s is like a second home. They are at the hospital often, and their care team has become like an extension of their family. Compared to their usual visits, their current stay, 23 days in the Cancer Care Unit, doesn’t seem that long.

“As hard as it is to be here, we know we’re in good hands. We have family within the hospital walls,” said Watters. “When we walked in that first day, Lucy was smiling, like she was going on vacation.”

It breaks Watters’ heart, but also gives her relief.

In the beginning of June, their family received devastating news. Lucy relapsed again, for the fourth time. Lucy was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 3 years old. Since then, for nearly half her life, she’s been in and out of the hospital for treatment.

“She doesn’t remember life before cancer,” Watters said.

Through everything, they hold onto hope, and live by a simple motto.

“Stay in today,” Watters said. “We take it one day at a time and live in the moment.”

Thursday was a good day, filled with so many special moments. They got to go home and received a special send-off from one of Lucy’s biggest fans, Alysha Clark of the Seattle Storm. Read full post »

A Superhero Surprise for Luella

Luella Konsmo is an avid fan of superheroes, and so when she broke her arm at the end of May and needed a cast, she knew exactly what she wanted.

Samantha Konsmo, Luella’s mother, said her love of superheroes started with her older brother, Cruz.

“He loves superheroes, and she loves him,” Konsmo said.

Luella and her family were enjoying a stroll around Green Lake in Seattle, when Luella fell and broke her arm. Their day of fun in the sun turned into a trip to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department.

When doctors in the Emergency Department asked Luella what color cast she wanted, the beaming 5-year-old didn’t hesitate. She said she wanted a “Thanos arm.” Read full post »