Amani Jackson and her identical twin sister, Amira, possess a rare bond that began in their mother’s womb.
Up until the moment they were born, grasping on to one another, their bond remained unbroken.
It wasn’t until surgeons noticed one of them wasn’t quite like the other, that they needed to part ways.
“Although they were both premature, Amira came out healthy as can be,” said their mother, Stranje Pittman. “However, as soon as the doctor saw Amani, they knew something was wrong. Before I knew it, she was rushed out of the operating room and immediately taken to Seattle Children’s.”
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When Cassie Fannin and her husband arrived at her 19-week ultrasound, the newly married couple was excited to learn more about their child. However, the first-time parents’ joy quickly turned to uncertainty when the ultrasound showed their baby’s stomach in her chest due to a life-threatening condition.
Fannin learned that her daughter, Summer, would be born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). Summer had a hole in the left side of her diaphragm that allowed her stomach, intestines and a portion of her liver to slip through into her chest cavity. This prevented her left lung from developing normally.
“To say it was a shock is an understatement,” said Fannin. “We went from being ecstatic about finding out we were having a girl to absolutely devastated in a matter of seconds. I left that day a completely different person. My sadness slowly turned into anger and resentment as I thought, ‘Why us? Why our baby?’”
Doctors referred the family to Seattle Children’s Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Program since Fannin’s baby would need surgery after birth, if she survived. The couple met Dr. Kimberly Riehle, an attending surgeon at Seattle Children’s, when Fannin was about 22 weeks along.
“My husband and I were completely lost and overwhelmed,” said Fannin. “Dr. Riehle helped ease our troubled minds during a really uncertain time. My feelings of bitterness and sorrow slowly started to melt away as I came to terms with the diagnosis and the realization that we were no different than anyone else getting a life-changing diagnosis, and I just focused on my excitement to meet her.” Read full post »
Ruth Garcia, 17, received treatment from Seattle Children’s for her melanoma.
During seventh-grade gym class, Ruth Garcia remembers a friend pointing out a black mole she had on her left knee. Ruth didn’t think much about it until two years ago, when she began to feel pain in her knee and noticed that the mole had grown and changed colors to gray and red.
“That’s when I started to worry more,” said Ruth, now 17.
In spring 2016, Ruth’s mother took her to see her primary care provider near the family’s home in Walla Walla, Washington. They did a biopsy on the mole, and she was diagnosed with spitzoid melanoma. Ruth was referred to Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
A child born in the U.S. has about a one in 40 chance of developing melanoma during their lifetime. Seattle Children’s sees about six children a year who were either misclassified with melanoma or have spitzoid melanoma. The cause of spitzoid melanoma is unknown.
“I was surprised,” said Ruth. “I never thought something like that would happen to me.” Read full post »
Tristan, 9, recently underwent a three-stage nose reconstruction.
For most of the past year, 9-year-old Tristan Beck has been on a long, challenging journey toward nose reconstruction after a traumatic accident left him with a missing nose.
December 20, 2017 was a normal day of winter break for the Beck family. Tristan and his older sister were visiting their mother’s office to drop off food for a party. When they returned to the car, a dog was in the parking lot, showing no signs of aggression. However, when Tristan began to throw the dog a piece of food, it lunged at Tristan’s face and pulled him down. Tristan’s sister pulled him back, and the dog ran away.
All Tina Beck, Tristan’s mother, remembers is the blood on his face when his sister brought him back into her office.
“There was so much blood it was hard to see exactly what was wrong,” said Beck. “It was very hard for me to look at my son at first. My heart hurt and I was blaming myself for what had happened, but I wanted to be strong for him.”
The family called 911, and Tristan was transported to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department. Read full post »
In 2009, during Laurina Barker’s 20-week ultrasound, she and her husband Ryan received news that no expecting parents want to hear.
“The technician turned to me and said something looked different and that they would have my doctor call me,” said Barker.
A couple of days later, the Barkers would learn their baby had congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a rare birth defect where a baby’s diaphragm does not form completely. This leaves a hole between the abdomen and chest allowing their organs, most often their intestines and liver, to slip through the hole and up into the chest.
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When 4-year-old Sho Hansen entered the doors of Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center to get his tonsils removed, he clung on tightly to his mother.
“After his name was called and we sat in the exam room, all he wanted to do was sit in my lap and not acknowledge anyone that came in to talk to us,” said his mother, Lisa Hansen. “Sho is shy and tends to get nervous around people he doesn’t know well.”
One of the staff members in line to help prepare Sho for his surgery was a nurse anesthetist named Anisa Manion.
“My role at the clinic is to administer anesthesia to patients to help them fall asleep before going into surgery,” said Manion. “We’re given a short period of time to get kids as comfortable as possible. The process can be very challenging — many kids are anxious and nervous, so the friendlier we make the environment for them, the easier it is for them.”
Manion has a special trick up her sleeve when it comes to calming kids down during the pre-surgery process.
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Brothers Zeke (left) and Isaiah (right) were both born with a rare condition. They received care from Seattle Children’s Reconstructive Pelvic Medicine Program.
Ezekiel, or “Zeke,” 7, and Isaiah, 5, had a life-threatening medical condition at birth. They were both adopted from China with anorectal malformations, which affect about 1 in every 5,000 babies. Babies born with these malformations have no opening at the end of the digestive tract where the anus normally is, requiring complex surgery.
After receiving emergency surgery in China, both received individualized follow-up treatments from Seattle Children’s Reconstructive Pelvic Medicine Program, which is the most comprehensive and experienced program of its kind in the Western U.S. The program brings together the knowledge and skills of experts from General Surgery, Gastroenterology, Motility, Gynecology, Urology, Radiology and Pathology.
“Seattle Children’s has been fantastic, and everyone that we have come across has been great,” said mother Robyn Ross. “Everyone even knew us by name, and they made the whole experience very easy to navigate.” Read full post »
Bear Brother, 1, underwent emergency spine surgery when he was diagnosed with a neurological condition known as a Chiari malformation.
Instead of picking up balloons and cupcakes, Lisa Hannigan and Robert Brother found themselves waiting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Seattle Children’s one day before their son’s first birthday. In less than 36 hours, they had watched as their perfectly healthy son, Bear Brother, lost use of his arms and hands before he was rushed into emergency spine surgery for a neurological condition known as a Chiari malformation.
“It all happened so quickly,” said Hannigan. “After Bear’s daycare called me at work, we got to the Toppenish emergency center around 10 a.m. First thing the next morning he was going into surgery at Seattle Children’s.” Read full post »
A decade ago, the late Seattle Children’s surgeon, Dr. Richard Grady, began traveling to India for a special mission — to provide urgent surgical care to children born with a rare and complex disorder called bladder exstrophy (BE).
Grady’s dedication to helping under-resourced children in India led to the development of a unique international collaborative that aimed to alleviate the global burden of this surgically treatable disease, as documented in a recent article published in JAMA Surgery.
Dr. Paul Merguerian, division chief of urology at Seattle Children’s, who is helping to carry on Grady’s inspirational work, recalls his colleague’s passionate commitment to care for children not only in the Pacific Northwest region, but in a country located more than 7,000 miles across the globe.
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Oliver bounced back from overwhelming odds with an amazing recovery. His family is now looking forward to its first Christmas with him.
Brandi Harrington seized the first opportunity she had to touch her newborn son minutes before he was taken by ambulance to Seattle Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She and her husband, Tyler Harrington, were told Oliver had a 1% chance of surviving.
Propped up in a hospital bed following an emergency cesarean delivery seven weeks before her due date, Brandi saw Oliver for the first time. Tubes and wires connected all but one part of Oliver’s little, swollen body to machines that supported and monitored his breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels.
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