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This Schoolhouse Rocks: Inside the Classroom at Seattle Children’s

Thanks to the hospital school, Brighton Smith learned to believe in herself again after cancer robbed her of her confidence. Help us celebrate the teachers who shine the light of learning – and personal growth – into the dark corners of illness. GiveBIG to Seattle Children’s on May 5 (GiveBIG and National Teacher Day). The Seattle Foundation along with a generous anonymous donor will help you stretch your gift by matching donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000. Your generosity provides concrete resources like laptops and textbooks for the hospital schoolroom.

Brighton Smith, 11, visits with Lisa Schab, the teacher in Seattle Children's Schoolroom she calls her "hospital mom."

Brighton Smith, 11, visits with Lisa Schab, the teacher in Seattle Children’s Schoolroom she calls her “hospital mom.”

Brighton Smith didn’t feel well. Several weeks of battling chills and fatigue had left the 11-year-old wanting to sleep all the time. Her mom, Cassia Smith, worried she might have mono or even be depressed. Then a trip to her primary care provider yielded a very scary turn of events: a referral to Seattle Children’s and a diagnosis of leukemia – all in the same day.

Once on the Cancer Care Unit, everything but Brighton’s treatment fell by the wayside; that’s when Lisa Schab, a middle-school teacher from Seattle Children’s School Services, dropped by Brighton’s hospital room. Read full post »

One Enzyme Short: How a Clinical Trial Made All the Difference for a Young Boy with a Metabolic Disease

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Sutton Piper, age 3

Sutton Piper, 3, was born with a metabolic disorder that made his muscles too weak for crawling, walking and talking. After being referred to Dr. Sihoun Hahn, a biochemical geneticist at Seattle Children’s, Sutton is bouncing on his mini-trampoline and chatting up a storm. 

Sutton Piper came into the world on his own terms: nine days late.

At 6 months, he’d made little attempt at rolling over; at 9 months, he showed no interest in sitting up on his own; and, by his first birthday, he wasn’t even trying to crawl. Read full post »

Helping families in their darkest hour

Social worker Yasha Carpentier (right) talks with a patient’s mom about the Patient Emergency Assistance Fund.

Social worker Yasha Carpentier (right) talks with a patient’s mom about the Patient Emergency Assistance Fund.

A patient arrived at Seattle Children’s Emergency Department by helicopter, alone and unconscious. As the Emergency Department team worked to resuscitate the boy who had nearly drowned, his parents drove several hours in stunned silence to the hospital, hoping their son would be alive when they got there. After receiving the good news that he would ultimately recover from the accident, they realized that they’d left their cell phone charger at home and had no way to contact family and friends.

It’s a common scenario for families, who often arrive at Seattle Children’s Hospital for lifesaving care with little more than the clothes on their backs.That’s where the Patient Emergency Assistance Fund, administered by Seattle Children’s Social Work Department, comes into play. The fund provides short-term help to families who are hours away from home with little money and few of the basic necessities of life.

Social worker Lynne Hakim calls the fund a safety net and says the basic necessities it purchases, like a simple cell phone charger, can be the bridge that helps a family cope with all the uncertainty and intensity inherent in an unplanned hospital stay.

Read full post »

A family comes full circle when a genetic mutation passes from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter

Meet Olivia Rickert and Michile Smith: Two generations apart, but linked forever by their special hands.

When Olivia Rickert was still in utero, an ultrasound at 20 weeks revealed that she had inherited a genetic mutation passed down from her mother and maternal grandmother. In Olivia’s case, the mutation was expressed as a cleft (split) hand. Though most kids born with this condition have no other health problems and can overcome their hand difference naturally or with surgery, Olivia’s mom (Stephanie Rickert) worried it might signal worse news. Stephanie had little outward sign of the mutation, but her mother, Michile Gormley Smith, was born with split hand/split foot absent long bone syndrome — claw-like hands and feet and legs missing tibia bones. (Smith was treated at Seattle Children’s starting in 1958 by pioneering orthopedist Dr. Ernest Burgess.)

Read full post »