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Meet Dr. André Dick – A Beacon for Those Who Follow

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 100,000 people in the U.S. need a lifesaving organ.

One organ and tissue donor can save or enhance more than 75 lives. Anyone can be a potential donor. Registering with the national registry and sharing your decision with your family ensures that your wishes are carried out. You can also be a living donor by choosing to give an organ or part of an organ to someone in need through organ donation.

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.

Dr. André Dick, senior vice president and surgeon-in-chief, who also serves as surgical director of the pediatric kidney transplant program, took time this month to talk about his journey to where he is now, what he does in his role at Seattle Children’s, and his priorities for the years ahead. Read full post »

An Artist in Equity: Michael Willen Winner of 2021 Odessa Brown Ken Feldman Award

When Michael Willen, art therapist, was growing up in Boulder, Colorado during the 1990s, he heard lots of talk about accepting those who were different from you. Reality, however, often didn’t align with the talk.

“You couldn’t be openly gay or talk about something like being transgender,” he recalls. “I wanted a community to connect with, but I didn’t have that resource until I went to college. I wondered why we couldn’t have more of that.”

These days, Michael is helping build an open, accepting community for students at the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center and inpatients at Seattle Children’s. His crowning achievement is Diversity Club, a class at the Alyssa Burnett Center that celebrates diversity and helps students become advocates for equity.

For these reasons, Michael recently received the 2021 Odessa Brown Ken Feldman Award, one of Seattle Children’s highest honors, which recognizes individuals or teams that encourage, promote, and display compassion and advocacy for all people.

The Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic helped establish this award in 2006 to recognize individuals and teams that, beyond their formal job description, model diversity, inclusion, and quality care with dignity. A committee administers the award every year.

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Building a Community to Support Seattle Children’s Veteran Colleagues

Cameron, senior IT project manager and communications chair of the Veterans Inclusion Network, celebrates his stepfather’s retirement from the Marine Corps in 2009 after 21 years of service.

Do you know if any of your co-workers are military veterans?

Veterans work in just about every type of role at Seattle Children’s. You may work closely with a veteran and not even know it.

Veterans face special challenges in the workplace. Seattle Children’s Veterans Inclusion was formed in late 2019 to provide resources for veterans, recognize the contributions they make at Seattle Children’s, give them a voice within the organization and provide a place where veterans and their families belong.

 

To learn about the network’s activities and how workforce members can support veterans, we spoke with the leaders of the Veterans Inclusion Network:

  • Jeff, chair: biomedical equipment technician III, Clinical Engineering; served in the Navy for 11 years, including during the first Gulf War
  • Cameron, communications chair: senior Information Technology (IT) project manager, Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity; father, stepfather and other family members served, mostly in the Marine Corps
  • Jesse, mentor liaison: senior director, Real Estate and Property Operations; served in the Navy for six years

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Building Cure Takes the First Step Toward Living up to Its Name

In March 2021, Harper Chittim became the first patient to receive a cell therapy product manufactured at Building Cure.

Building Cure and Seattle Children’s Therapeutics are devoted to developing innovative therapies for childhood disease. Meet the first patient to receive a cell therapy treatment produced at Building Cure.

When Building Cure opened in fall 2019, Meagan Hollingshead and Josh Chittim had more pressing concerns. Their normally energetic 6-month-old daughter Harper was sick, and multiple visits to their doctor in Yakima had provided no answers.

But when Harper’s condition worsened and she started struggling to breathe, they took her to the emergency room, where bloodwork revealed the devastating cause: Harper had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

The doctor immediately sent them to Seattle Children’s.

“Meagan and Harper flew over to Seattle Children’s,” Chittim said. “And I drove there at 110 miles an hour.”

At that point, Hollingshead and Chittim weren’t aware Building Cure existed. They didn’t know how important the building, and the Seattle Children’s Therapeutics team it houses, would become to Harper’s future. And they had no idea Harper would receive the first cell therapy product manufactured there. Read full post »

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy: Experts Answer Important COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

In December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. This was hailed as a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, many people are hesitant about these new vaccines for a variety of reasons, and the proliferation of misinformation can make it difficult to know what to believe.

On the Pulse spoke with Seattle Children’s experts, Dr. Douglas Diekema, director of education, Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and chair of Children’s Institutional Review Board Committee, and Dr. Douglas Opel, director of Clinical Ethics about vaccine hesitancy. Their answers were honest, compassionate and substantiated by data. Read full post »

Two Brothers, Four Transplants, One Strong Family

Logan (left) and Connor Brown at Turnagain Arm in Alaska. The brothers have both received kidney and liver transplants at Seattle Children’s.

“I hate to tell you this, but your son needs a kidney transplant.”

Those words left Rob and Patty Brown dumbstruck.

It was October 2008. That day their 6-year-old son, Connor, had complained that his feet were cramping during hockey practice. Later that evening, his hands and feet completely locked up — a condition called tetany.

“We raced him to the emergency room thinking it was just something silly,” Rob remembers.

It wasn’t something silly. Connor was diagnosed with nephronophthisis, a rare genetic disorder that leads to kidney failure.

Little did the Browns know this was just the beginning of a long and frightening journey, not only for Connor but for their younger son, Logan, as well — a journey that would lead to four transplants and would test their strength as a family.

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Kids and Suicidality: The Behavioral Health Crisis Care Clinic Steps Into the Gap

Xander at Meadowdale Beach in Edmonds with Tuft, the family’s dog. Xander began having thoughts of ending his life at age 9, but thanks in large part to the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Clinic, he’s now on the path to recovery.

Xander was just 9 years old when his life took a nightmarish turn.

It started with debilitating headaches, which got so bad that he needed inpatient treatment. The treatment helped, but as the headaches diminished, Xander’s parents noticed a difference in their son.

“He became depressed,” said Stephanie Simpson, Xander’s mother. “He would curl into a ball, was no longer active and couldn’t make it through the school day.”

As if those changes weren’t troubling enough, Xander told his parents something that terrified them: He was having thoughts of ending his life.

Fortunately, Xander was eventually referred to the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Clinic (BHCCC) at Seattle Children’s, where he received a diagnosis and evidence-based treatment that put him on the path to recovery.

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From Stunning Diagnosis to Unexpected Hope: MEK Inhibitor Proves Amazing for Grace

Despite a lifetime of medical setbacks, you’ll almost always find 18-year-old Grace Carney smiling.

Grace Carney was 16 years old when she first began falling. Before long, she was falling every day. It got so bad that she had to rely on other people — family members at home and aides at school — to help her walk.

For Grace, this was the latest in a lifetime of medical setbacks, many of which stem from neurofibromatosis type one (NF1), a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow all over the body, including under the skin and on the nerves.

To improve Grace’s ability to walk, a doctor in Spokane recommended a major orthopedic surgery. But as the Carneys prepared for that surgery, an MRI result flipped everything upside down and brought them to Seattle Children’s, where Grace received an innovative medical treatment that changed her life and could do the same for countless others with NF1. Read full post »