On the Pulse

Seattle Children’s Anti-Racism Organizational Change Plan

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Seattle Children’s is dedicated to becoming an anti-racist and equitable health organization.

To realize this vision, we’ve adopted a long-term comprehensive plan with our Anti-Racism Organizational Change and Accelerated Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan. This plan was designed with the guidance and support from our patients, workforce, community and trusted expert leaders on anti-racism work, equity, inclusion and diversity over the last year.

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Liquid Biopsy Promising in Children With Vascular Malformations

Ezra Anpo (right), here with his sister Aria, participated in a research study investigating a liquid biopsy approach to providing a genetic diagnosis in children with lymphatic malformations.

Doctors at Seattle Children’s are investigating whether a simple liquid biopsy containing a small amount of fluid from a patient may someday provide an easier route to a genetic diagnosis in children with vascular or lymphatic malformations.

The work is a collaborative effort led by Dr. James Bennett, a clinical geneticist and co-director of the molecular diagnostic laboratory at Seattle Children’s and Dr. Jonathan Perkins, an otolaryngologist and director of the Seattle Children’s Vascular Anomalies Program. Liquid biopsy offers an alternative to the more invasive surgical biopsies required – when a genetic, or molecular diagnosis, is needed to help guide a patient’s treatment.

“We can now provide a specific genetic diagnosis for a lot of vascular malformations,” Bennett said. “That’s important for families for a variety of reasons with one being it’s just extremely healing and powerful to know the reason why your child has these differences.” Read full post »


Study Offers Good News on COVID-19 Immunity

Pictured from left to right: Yu Chen, Malika Hale and Christopher Thouvenel of the Rawlings lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

For close to a decade the labs of Dr. David Rawlings at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Dr. Marion Pepper at the University of Washington have collaborated on a project studying the immune response in malaria infections.

As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the U.S., they turned their expertise and the techniques pioneered for malaria to a new line of inquiry: Did mild infection from the new coronavirus stimulate the immune system to generate antibodies that would offer future protection from the virus? And if so, could they engineer those neutralizing antibodies in the lab to develop potent new therapeutic options?

Rawlings, the director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children’s and a professor of pediatrics at UW, discusses their encouraging findings now published in Cell. Learn why he says their research is good news for efforts to control COVID-19 and what’s next for his lab. Read full post »


From Patient Family to Employee, Rachel Robinson is Grateful for Seattle Children’s

Rachel Robinson and her family were on a family camping trip when she started to notice something was amiss with her son, Eli. He appeared pale, a hint of green to his complexion, and he was covered in bruises. His identical twin seemed fine, which added to Robinson’s concern.

She called their pediatrician, and they were advised to go to Seattle Children’s as soon as possible. After a blood test, doctors discovered something unimaginable. Eli had cancer.

“It’s something you think is never going to happen to you,” Robinson said. “You wonder if you did something wrong. It was surreal.” Read full post »


Amid Unprecedented Challenges, Seattle Children’s Experts Offer Steps Toward Better Health in 2021

This year has been filled with unprecedented challenges – physically, mentally, financially – and families are looking forward to putting 2020 behind them. As we collectively usher in a new year, it’s an opportune time to think about small changes we can make to better children’s health in 2021.

Dr. Pooja Tandon, a researcher in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, says this year has caused all kinds of disruptions to children’s lives, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Routines have been shattered, physical activity has decreased, sleep has been affected and the hardships of the year like uncertainty and isolation have impacted children’s mental health.

“Many things are hard right now,” Tandon said. “But for the things we have control over, we can make little changes that can promote health.”

Below, three experts break down three key areas to help support better health in 2021 – physical activity, sleep and nutrition. Read full post »


Dr. Markus Boos Discusses Rashes: What’s Normal and When to Worry

When it comes to rashes, Seattle Children’s dermatologist Dr. Markus Boos is like a detective. When he meets with patients and families who are concerned about a rash, Boos first listens to their story, looks at their skin for clues and then works with them to determine the cause.

Dr. Markus Boos, Seattle Children’s dermatologist, is grateful to be entrusted by parents to care for their children, and to have the opportunity to do something that he loves every day.

“When I meet with families, there are two important things I always want to emphasize in order to help allay any anxiety they may have,” Boos said. “The first is that we see rashes all the time – literally every day. Their child often has a condition that many other children do as well. Secondly, I reaffirm that I’m glad they came to see me, no matter how mild or severe their skin condition is. I’m a parent and I get it. It’s distressing when something is wrong with your child, and I’m here to help.”

Most of the rashes Boos sees are manageable with topical medications or observation and there is usually no cause for concern, but there are some cases when parents should seek treatment more urgently.

“What should make you worry about a rash is when there are symptoms that involves systems outside the skin, like high fever, vomiting or lethargy,” Boos said. “Those things definitely make me more concerned. For the most part, the majority of common skin rashes won’t have those.” Read full post »


‘It’s a Beautiful Part of You’: Abby Inspires Others with Celiac Disease

Abby Spaulding, 15, was only 2 years old when she was diagnosed with celiac disease.

As a baby, she had a very sensitive stomach and would throw up frequently.

Abby’s mother brought her to the doctor concerned it was something more than just a simple upset stomach. Her intuition was right. Abby was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage in the small intestine. People with celiac disease respond differently to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

“It didn’t really come as a big shock to my mom,” Abby said. “My uncle had celiac disease, so we knew it ran in the family.”

Back in San Diego, where Abby spent her early childhood, she would go to support groups with her mother to help navigate a new lifestyle that required Abby to eat gluten-free foods only.

“Since I was so young when I was diagnosed, it was a very confusing situation for me,” Abby said. “When we’d go to the store and my mom wouldn’t allow me to pick certain foods, I didn’t understand what was going on. Joining the support groups really helped me better understand what celiac disease was and how I could cope with it.” Read full post »


NFL Player Myles Gaskin Spotlights Youth Mental Health Through ‘My Cause My Cleats’

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Miami Dolphins

During the month of December, NFL players sport a different look on their feet with custom designed cleats aimed to represent a cause that they feel most passionate about.

It was only natural for Myles Gaskin, former University of Washington (UW) Huskies football player, now running back with the Miami Dolphins, to choose a cause that hits close to home in more ways than one.

“Growing up in Seattle, I always knew about Seattle Children’s, so when I was playing for UW, teammates and I decided to visit the hospital a few different times to meet some the kids,” said Gaskin. “The whole experience really opened my eyes to see how much you can impact someone by just giving them your time.”

With Seattle Children’s in mind for his cause, Gaskin wanted to zero in on another issue that deeply spoke to him.

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Santa Makes Virtual Visits to Seattle Children’s, Music Therapists Sing Carols

This year has been especially difficult for patients and families at Seattle Children’s. Spending time in the hospital is typically not a fun experience, and so for families who have to be inpatient during the holidays, the season may not feel as merry. To help spread joy and brighten up the holidays for children in the hospital, the Child Life team at Seattle Children’s found a new way for Santa to zoom into the hospital this year: they arranged virtual visits, because even during a pandemic, Santa wanted kids in the hospital to know he was thinking about them.

For Melissa Strilecki, 2020 has been more than a difficult year.

“2020 has been the worst year of our lives,” she said.

In May 2020, 3-year-old Hazel came down with what their family thought was a virus. At first, her symptoms didn’t seem insidious. She had a fever and was throwing up. A week later she started complaining of leg pain.

“She was in terrible pain,” Strilecki said. “We couldn’t even pick her up without her crying out.”

They called their pediatrician, and they were advised to take her to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department. At first, they thought her symptoms may have been caused by a bone infection, but after further testing, they received an unimaginable diagnosis: malignant cancer.

“You are told cancer is rare,” Strilecki said. “But it didn’t feel very rare.”

They were devastated. Read full post »


Option To Freeze Ovarian Tissue Gives Young Cancer Patients Hope for Future Fertility

Faye Prekeges’s senior photo, taken one year before her cancer diagnosis. Faye was the first patient at Seattle Children’s to have her ovary removed and frozen to try to preserve her fertility while undergoing treatment for high-risk leukemia.

At 19, Faye Prekeges was not planning for parenthood. She was a freshman at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She spent her days thinking about majoring in French and dreaming of working with the United Nations Refugee Agency, not about whether she wanted to be a mother one day.

But an unexpected diagnosis changed all that.

Six weeks into her second semester, Faye began having high fevers and visited the university’s health clinic. Providers suggested she had the flu and would feel better in about a week, but her symptoms quickly grew worse. A few days later, she woke up with a fever of 104 degrees.

Faye thought to herself, “I need to see a doctor now.” She took an Uber to Boston Medical Center’s Emergency Department and tested positive for mononucleosis. They kept her overnight because her white blood cell count was abnormally low.

“Luckily, the woman looking at my slides noticed what she thought were blast cells (primitive, undifferentiated blood cells, often found in the blood of people with acute leukemia) and sent them to the pathologist, who confirmed they were,” Faye said.

She was transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Faye said. “I feel like, this happened to me and my family because we are strong enough to get through it.” Read full post »