McKinley with her twin brother.
In honor of World Kidney Day, On The Pulse shares the inspirational story of 5-year-old McKinley Miller who was born with just one kidney that did not develop normally. “She’s our little miracle,” said McKinley’s mother, Jennifer Miller. “We want other people to know there’s always hope. All you have to do is look at McKinley and see what she’s overcome.”
When Jennifer Miller learned she was expecting twins she was overjoyed. Unfortunately, Miller’s joy quickly turned to uncertainty. At her 20-week ultrasound, Miller was told something was wrong with one of the babies.
“I could tell they were looking for something that wasn’t there,” said Miller. “I knew something wasn’t quite right.”
Baby McKinley was prenatally diagnosed with kidney disease and was missing one kidney. She suffered from a rare combination of complex developmental problems affecting multiple organs in her body, including her kidneys, heart and rectum.
“We chose to stay positive,” said Miller. “We were told we may lose her, but I refused to focus on that possibility. I kept focusing on having both my babies.” Read full post »
Seattle Children’s is launching a pilot with Health123 for a digital program that focuses on follow-up care for transplant patients.
Transplant day is a joyous milestone for children and families who’ve been through a difficult illness. But the healing does not end when the new organ is in place—in fact, that is when the real work begins, according to Dr. Jodi Smith, Medical Director for the Kidney Transplant Program at Seattle Children’s.
“One of the biggest factors in a successful transplant is for the patient to follow a careful regimen afterwards so the new organ can do its job,” said Smith. “Patients often struggle to maintain their health after a transplant and need extensive support.”
To help with this problem, Dr. Smith’s transplant team is working with Dr. Jane Dickerson and Dr. Michael Astion from the Department of Laboratories on a pilot for a digital program from Health123 that focuses on the follow-up care for transplant patients at Seattle Children’s, which has one of the highest-ranked kidney transplant programs in the country. Read full post »
Aaden Adams with his parents, Cheree and Andrew Adams
Aaden Adams remembers waking up in his room in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Seattle Children’s Hospital and asking for red Popsicles.
“Everybody wanted me to talk and I wanted a red Popsicle,” said the precocious 6-year-old with a face full of freckles. “So I asked for Popsicles. Do you remember that, Mom?”
“Yes, we remember that well,” answered Aaden’s mom, Cheree Adams. “That was a good day. That was the day we knew that you were on the right path. We knew that you were coming back to us.”
Just two weeks prior, Aaden, who was born with a congenital heart defect, was so near death that his parents were preparing themselves for the reality that he might not make it out of the hospital. It was a situation they had not even considered.
“He came here for a pretty minor procedure,” said Andrew Adams, Aaden’s father. “He was supposed to be in and out of the operating room, but then his body just shut down. His heart wouldn’t restart.”
Dr. Erin Albers, Aaden’s attending cardiologist, said the complication was so unusual that no one on the care team had seen it before. Read full post »
Parker Rana, 15, has truly overcome the odds to get to where he is today. Born with multiple heart defects, Parker grew up in and out of the hospital. But now, he’s a thriving teenager with an incredible story of hope.
Below is Parker’s story: from hospital bed to trackside, cheering on his favorite racing team, The Heart of Racing.
An unexpected delivery
Jaydine Rana, Parker’s mother, was expecting a healthy baby boy when she delivered Parker on June 2, 1999 in Mt. Vernon, Wash. Unfortunately, she got some unexpected news that day. Parker was born with a combination of four heart defects – a hole in his heart, a missing pulmonary artery and valve, an enlarged ventricle and an overriding aorta. He was airlifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital shortly after birth for treatment. Read full post »
April marks National Donate Life Month, a time devoted to spreading awareness about the tremendous need for increasing the number of organ, eye and tissue donors. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 120,000 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ, and sadly, more than 21 people die each day waiting for a transplant. For some, becoming a donor and the transplantation process can seem daunting, but the impact on a recipient’s life is invaluable.
Seattle Children’s has one of the best and busiest pediatric transplant centers in the nation, working across a six-state region to provide lifesaving organ transplants for patients. Seattle Children’s Transplant Center is one of the few in the world that performs living donor liver transplants, is one of the top five kidney transplant centers in the U.S. and also has some of the best survival outcomes in the nation for pediatric liver, kidney and heart transplants. Read full post »
Andrew and Anna Copley
In honor of Organ Donor Awareness Month, we’re sharing the story of Anna and Andrew Copley. Read below about Anna’s journey to transplant and the bond that will tie two siblings together forever.
Anna Copley, 15, and her family have known since Anna was a baby that she might need a kidney transplant. At only 3 weeks old, she contracted severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a virus that infected her lungs and breathing passages. Her kidneys failed due to the virus and even though she recovered, her kidneys were damaged beyond repair. As Anna grew up, her kidneys got progressively worse, unknowingly to the Copley family.
“We are thankful that Anna’s kidney’s ‘failed slowly,’” said Rebecca Copley, Anna’s mother. “Her kidney failure progressed so slowly, that her body adjusted, and for her, she only knew this as normal.” Read full post »
The language of medicine is full of complicated words and acronyms. For parents of children with serious heart conditions like congenital heart disease or pulmonary hypertension, one such acronymn that may incite fear or worry is hearing that their child may need a device called a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device). However, these devices, combined with Seattle Children’s Heart Center’s medical expertise, save the lives of many children and teens each year.
What is a VAD?
A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump a surgeon implants inside or outside a child’s chest and connects to the heart during open-heart surgery. A VAD can be used for patients waiting for a heart transplant or for patients whose heart muscle needs to rest. Seattle Children’s has a variety of VAD options for patients large and small, from tiny babies to young adults, which aren’t available at every hospital. VAD options at Seattle Children’s include the Berlin Heart, CentriMag and PediMag centrifugal pumps, HeartMate II, Heartware HVAD and SynCardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH).
The newer, fully implantable VADs like the HeartMate II, Heartware HVAD or TAH can also greatly enhance the quality of life for many patients who are awaiting a heart transplant, often allowing them to leave the hospital. For one such patient from Hawaii named Julie Kobayashi, her implantable VAD even allowed her to leave the hospital while she waited for a heart and achieve her dream of playing in the snow for the first time.
To learn about each type of VAD, watch the video above as cardiac surgeons Dr. Jonathan Chen and Dr. Michael McMullan explain the many types that Seattle Children’s offers, and why it’s important to choose the device that best matches a child’s needs.
Read full post »
Jack sits with his uncle (right) who donated his kidney to him.
It can be hard enough to remember to take a multivitamin every day; imagine having to take 20 pills at specific times throughout the day, every day, for your whole life. That’s the reality individuals who have undergone an organ transplant must face. In order to stay healthy and to keep their bodies from rejecting their transplanted organ, a myriad of medications must be taken daily, including immunosuppressants. It can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially for teenagers.
According to research studies, adolescents have the worst outcomes after transplant out of any age group. Adolescents also have the highest rate of non-adherence, which means they either decide not to take their medication or just plain forget, which can lead to the rejection of the organ.
“You can imagine taking that many medications every day could get a little old. It’s a major burden to put on a teenager,” said Dr. Jodi Smith, medical director of kidney transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and a researcher with the Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR). “They were not meant to have this much stuff going on in their life. But if you don’t take your meds, you’ll eventfully need another kidney transplant, and once you lose one it’s harder to get another.” Read full post »
Dr. Stephen Seslar prepares for a complicated surgery using a new, realistic heart model created with 3-D printing.
Kami Sutton, 26, who you met last week, has been waiting for a heart transplant for five years. But surgeons at Seattle Children’s and University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) are now preparing to perform a difficult surgery that could greatly improve her quality of life and may even eliminate her need for a transplant. It’s possible for the first time ever, thanks to a new, realistic heart model created with 3-D printing. Read full post »
Julie Kobayashi, 12, traveled from Hawaii to Seattle Children’s for her heart transplant.
Children who need a heart transplant face a frightening waiting game before a donor heart becomes available. They must live with a failing heart for months, or even years, as clinicians strive to keep them healthy enough for transplant. Nationally, these patients face the highest waiting list mortality in solid-organ transplantation medicine, with 17% of children dying while waiting for a heart transplant.
Thankfully, Seattle Children’s has one of the best waitlist mortality rates among pediatric heart transplant centers, as reported to the United Network of Organ Sharing. The hospital also treats some of the region’s most complex, advanced heart disease and heart transplant cases and has one of the highest 3-year patient survival rates in the country.
“We are proud to be ranked among the best pediatric heart transplant centers in the country,” said Dr. Yuk Law, medical director of the Cardiac Transplant/Heart Failure Service at Seattle Children’s. “We have created a team of skilled experts who have dedicated their careers to treating heart failure and transplant cases.” Read full post »