On the Pulse

How Reese Discovered a Life Worth Living

When Reese Patterson was in sixth grade, she experienced vicious cyberbullying from several of her peers.

“Every day I would get texts from people who would tell me to kill myself,” Reese said. “When you are told to do that every single day, you actually start to believe it.”

Reese’s mother, Val, recalls trying to work with her school to get the bullying to stop.

“We tried to work with the school, and they said it was out of their hands since it happened outside of the school day,” Val said. “We reported it to police after she overdosed, which became a big joke by some of the kids at school. From there, things got even worse.”

Reese began self-harming through cutting.

“Her school called me when they noticed her cutting,” Val said. “The school suggested I contact Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and we went straight there that afternoon. The social worker felt that Reese’s situation wasn’t serious enough and that she’d learn more dangerous behaviors while inpatient. All we were left with was a list of therapists to call.”

Things continued to unravel, as Reese’s cutting became more severe.

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Navigating the Digital World and Play During the Pandemic

In 2020, the TODAY Show featured Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, in a story about the evolving digital age and the effect media has on children and their developing minds. A year later, Jake Ward, NBC News correspondent, is following up to learn more about how the pandemic has impacted the use of digital devices. Watch as Ward and Christakis explore again the intersection between a child’s development and the digital world.

The below article features a family navigating the challenges of media usage during the pandemic and their participation in a study led by Christakis to better understand play-based activities.

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Five Years After Her Brain Tumor Surgery, Liesel Is Graduating From Harvard

Liesel Von Imhof at Harvard

Liesel Von Imhof will graduate from Harvard with a degree in stem cell biology in May 2021, five years after Seattle Children’s neurosurgeons removed her brain tumor.

As a high school freshman, Liesel Von Imhof had a dream of attending college at Harvard. She packed her schedule with challenging classes and participated in varsity sports such as cross-country running and cross-country skiing. She had occasional, debilitating headaches that sometimes caused her to miss school, but she blamed them on stress, dehydration or low blood sugar.

In July 2016, just before her senior year of high school, Liesel’s dream of Harvard was almost derailed when doctors found the reason for her headaches: a Ping-Pong ball-sized tumor in the middle of her brain.

At the urging of her doctors, Liesel, then age 17, and her parents traveled from their home in Anchorage, Alaska, to Seattle Children’s.

Thanks to the care she received here, the support of her family and friends, and her own determination, Liesel is graduating from Harvard this month with a degree in stem cell biology — her first step toward a career in medicine.

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Ensuring the Continuity of Research to Improve Children’s Lives Amidst the Unexpected

Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is envisioning and testing next-generation cell and gene therapies for pediatric diseases so children have the medicines they deserve.

How Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is Navigating the Pandemic

When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, Seattle Children’s Therapeutics researcher Kaori Oda worried that her research work would be put on hold, or even worse, need to permanently end. Like most people, she was worried that she and her family might contract the virus, but she was also concerned that a slowdown would impact her team’s timeline for bringing a much-needed therapy to children with leukemia.

Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is a unit in the research division at Seattle Children’s. As a novel non-profit therapeutics development enterprise, it is devoted to envisioning and testing next-generation cell and gene therapies for pediatric diseases, so children have the medicines they deserve.

The Seattle Children’s Therapeutics team has designed, manufactured and launched a robust portfolio of cellular immunotherapy clinical trials for childhood cancer since 2012 in the areas of leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors and solid tumors. The team plans to expand its focus to other childhood diseases that are amenable to treatment using genetic and cellular therapies. Read full post »


The Nadella Family Commits to a Hopeful and Brighter Future for all Children and Families, Supporting Advanced Precision Medicine Neurosciences and Mental and Behavioral Health Care

Zain Nadella is 24 years old. When his family talks about him, they light up. They speak about his eclectic taste in music, his warm sunny smile, and the love he has for his family. Zain has had to struggle against tremendous adversity due to his medical condition. His journey has shaped the Nadella family’s story to one of resilience, empathy, and determination to realize the promise of a brighter future for children with neurological conditions.

Hours after Zain was born, he was rushed to Seattle Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Born with cerebral palsy, he fought for survival in those first few months and required life-saving treatment. His parents, Satya and Anu Nadella, put their trust in the doctors and care providers at Seattle Children’s. Zain’s birth story was not what they had imagined. He was born weighing just 3 pounds and suffered asphyxiation in utero. When they found themselves surrounded by beeping machines and an army of healthcare providers, their focus shifted.

“Like our baby, I too was in survival mode,” Anu said. “I was focused on taking one day at a time.”

Today, Zain still faces many challenges. Zain’s health issues have only intensified as he has grown. He is legally blind and is affected by spastic quadriplegia and has required complex care at Seattle Children’s. The Nadella family likens the hospital to a second home. Read full post »


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 »


How Seattle Children’s Turned One Family’s Devastation Into Hope

When Cassie Fannin was 19-weeks pregnant with her first baby, she couldn’t wait for the ultrasound that would reveal her child’s gender. During the appointment, she and her husband, Michael, were delighted as they watched their beautiful baby wiggling around on the ultrasound screen.

Fannin asked the technician, “Is it a boy or girl?”

But the technician’s previously cheerful expression now suggested something was wrong. “I’ll need to check with the doctor,” the technician said while hurrying out of the room.

Moments later, a doctor gave Fannin and her husband the devastating news that changed their lives.

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Responding to Our State’s Youth Mental Health Emergency

Dr. Alysha Thompson is the clinical director of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) at Seattle Children’s. She’s seen first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on youth mental health. She shares how dire the situation has become and provides advice for parents.

We are a year into an unprecedented pandemic that has taken a toll on all our lives. Children and adolescents are feeling this acutely – over the past year we’ve seen a significant increase in mental health-related visits to the emergency room and an increase in youth suicide.

Even before the pandemic, children and adolescents had the most significant rise in suicides over the past two decades compared to other age groups. However, as schools have moved to virtual learning, as people have been isolated from their friends and family, and all the normal structures that bring joy to our lives and give us things to look forward to have altered dramatically, we have seen an even further increase in suicide and suicidal ideation in youth. Read full post »


Study Shows Youth Seeking Gender-Affirming Care Were Satisfied with Telemedicine Appointments During COVID-19

This past year, as many individuals sought health care through telemedicine, a question formed in Dr. Gina Sequeira’s mind. As the co-director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children’s, her mission is to make gender-affirming care accessible for all youth, and so the capabilities of telehealth are rightfully an exciting new territory to explore. With the growth of telemedicine and its potential to improve access to care, Sequeira wanted to better understand gender diverse youths’ experiences with and satisfaction receiving virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published in Transgender Health, Sequeira, the lead author, found the majority of youth who participated in the study were satisfied with telemedicine and would be willing to use it again in the future. Although many said they preferred in-person visits, about 88% of gender diverse adolescents were satisfied with conducting gender clinic visits using telemedicine.

“Telemedicine has been a great way for us to support gender diverse youth and their families during the pandemic. Because of the limited number of pediatric gender-affirming care providers in the region, prior to the pandemic, many families experienced geographic and cost related barriers to receiving this care. We are hopeful that by continuing to offer gender clinic visits over telemedicine we will be able to overcome some of those barriers.” Sequeira said. Read full post »


“I Chose to Get Vaccinated, But I Understand Why Others Hesitate”

Dr. Monique Burton, medical director of Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s, will be sharing her vaccination experience with the athletes she cares for and the community at large.

Dr. Monique Burton is the medical director of Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s, Chair of the USA Track and Field Sports Medicine Science Committee, and a physician for the U.S. Track and Field team who will travel with the team to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Burton received a COVID-19 vaccine and documented her experience to share with athletes and the community at large. Here, she shares her understanding of vaccine hesitancy among people of color, and how she wants to provide the community with information and tools so they can make informed decisions for themselves.

Last year, when I learned a COVID-19 vaccine would soon be available, I wanted to learn more. I was inquisitive and perhaps even a little hesitant. This vaccine was different from the longstanding vaccines my children and I had previously received. If I was prescribed a new medication I wouldn’t hesitate to ask questions, and I approached this new vaccine the same way.

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