On the Pulse

Cutting-Edge Clinical Trials for Alagille Syndrome Help Families Find Relief from Rare Condition

A woman leaning down holding a young girl on a path in a park.

Amanda and her daughter, Amelia, have both been treated at Seattle Children’s for Alagille syndrome.

When Amanda Thorlacius found out she was pregnant with a little girl, she was overjoyed. But she wondered if her daughter would inherit the same genetic condition that robbed her of a normal childhood.

“Give me all the diseases in the world, but don’t give Alagille syndrome to my children,” Amanda said.

Alagille syndrome (ALGS) is a rare, inherited condition in which children may have too few bile ducts in the liver. This causes problems with the way bile moves and makes it hard for the body to remove toxins.

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Seattle Children’s Welcomes Dr. Mignon Loh to Lead Cancer and Blood Disorders Care and Research

Last year, if you had told Dr. Mignon Loh that she would soon become the leader of cancer care and research at Seattle Children’s, no one would have been more surprised than her. As chief of pediatric oncology at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospitals, she was caring for children with cancer and leading breakthrough research at one of the world’s most renowned medical institutions. Then Seattle Children’s contacted her and outlined our vision – and we were thrilled that it immediately caught her attention.

“I wasn’t looking to leave UCSF, but I was intrigued because Seattle Children’s was thinking big,” Loh said. “They were committed to building innovative facilities to augment their research footprint, they wanted to reimagine wet and dry bench research as part of their alliance with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington, and they were clearly on a mission to improve cancer and blood diseases care for children worldwide. The opportunity was too good to pass up.”

We’re ecstatic that Loh joined Seattle Children’s in December, and is leading the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and directing the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She is also division chief of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy at the University of Washington School of Medicine and heads the Section of Pediatric Oncology at Fred Hutch.

“Seattle Children’s has an amazing history, and their immunotherapy work is groundbreaking,” Loh said. “I’m excited to build on that and make an even bigger difference for the kids who are afflicted with blood diseases and cancers who need better treatments and cures.” Read full post »


Using Art and Music Therapy to Promote Physical and Mental Health

Screen shot of a woman with long hair on the left and a painting on the right.

This wintry snow illustration was designed by Helena in a “Dessert and Draw” virtual evening group designed for cancer care teen patients and siblings, 13-years-old and older. The purpose of the Zoom sessions is to present a theme to participants once a month and bring together teen siblings, who may live anywhere in the country.

As part of the Child Life Department, art and music therapy at Seattle Children’s introduces different techniques to promote patients’ physical and mental health, either at patients’ bedside to assist in the art-making process or virtually in smaller groups and one-to-one sessions.

Through a variety of creative materials and techniques, which can include drawing, painting, clay and collage, patients learn about their relationship with art with support from art therapists to help them express themselves, process emotions and connect with loved ones from afar.

Seattle Children’s art therapist, Helena Hillinga Haas, leads many of these individual and virtual group sessions and explains how the process can help develop autonomy, strength and resilience for children and teenagers coping with symptoms, anxiety and traumatic experiences. Read full post »


Seattle Children’s Announces New Leadership for Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic

A smiling woman sitting on a chair the right gives a high-five to a happy young child as another smiling child wearing glasses looks at them.

Dr. Shaquita Bell has been caring for families at OBCC for nearly 16 years.

Seattle Children’s has appointed Dr. Shaquita Bell as senior medical director of Odesa Brown Children’s Clinic in south Seattle, where she has served for nearly 16 years. The organization also named Dr. Kenisha Campbell as medical director at the clinic.

Bell will lead OBCC in the Central District and the new clinic at Othello Square, which is slated to open in March. Both doctors will have roles at the two locations.

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Helping Children Sleep: Seattle Children’s Expanding Sleep Medicine Program

A child in a bed with a medical professional standing to the left and another person sitting on a couch in the background.

One of the 12 overnight sleep study suites at Seattle Children’s new Sleep Center

Studies consistently show that up to 50% of children experience a sleep problem at least a few nights each week. While the most recognized consequence of inadequate sleep is daytime sleepiness, children commonly manifest their sleepiness as irritability, behavioral problems, learning difficulties and poor academic performance.

Some sleep disruptions are normal and are connected to age-related changes. Others are symptoms of an actual sleep disorder. Whatever the reason, sleep problems can affect the entire family and should be accurately diagnosed.

In this Q&A, Dr. Maida Chen, director of Seattle Children’s Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, shares details on Seattle Children’s expanding Sleep Medicine Program.

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Dr. Maneesh Batra, New Interim Neonatology Chief, Aims to Improve Access to Care for Babies Everywhere

A man with a beard, smiling and wearing glasses with green vegetation in the background.

Dr. Maneesh Batra’s experience with babies in low-resource countries fed his passion to focus on neonatal care and public health.

Dr. Maneesh Batra, the new interim chief of neonatology at Seattle Children’s, first became interested in neonatology when he was working as a resident in Ugandan hospitals in 2002. He witnessed the incredible sorrow on the faces of mothers whose babies were failing to thrive.

“It was striking to me how much the providers and the families wanted to give those babies hope,” Batra said. “The moms were bringing their babies there to give them a chance at survival, and most of them were dying. It felt really wrong and unfair.”

When Batra returned to the U.S., he found it hard to shake those images from his mind. It ultimately led him to converge two of his interests — neonatal care and global health — with the mission of helping improve access to care for all babies everywhere.

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Achieving Racial Equity in Transplants: Seattle Children’s Dr. Evelyn Hsu’s Mission

A woman smiling and looking at the camera

Dr. Evelyn Hsu, Seattle Children’s Division Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, wants to ensure racial equity in transplants.

Seattle Children’s recently named Dr. Evelyn Hsu the division chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. For more than a year, Hsu was the acting chief while a national search was conducted.

In this interview, Dr. Hsu talks about her extensive medical career, her vision for the future and what hope, care and cures mean to her. Read on to hear more about her incredible journey and her passion for helping children live the most fulfilling life possible.

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Epilepsy Update: Dr. Rusty Novotny Discusses Latest Treatments and Developments

A man wearing glasses and a suit shows a model of a human head with electrodes to two women.

Dr. Novotny, right, director of Seattle Children’s Epilepsy Program, discusses the latest developments in epilepsy (file photo)

New research and treatments for epilepsy have come a long way in the last several years. In this Q&A, we talk with Dr. Edward “Rusty” Novotny, director of Seattle Children’s Epilepsy Program and professor of neurology and pediatrics at the University of Washington. As the director of one of the largest epilepsy programs in the nation and the program exclusively dedicated to pediatrics in the Northwest accredited level 4 by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers, Dr. Novotny answers questions about advances in epilepsy treatment.

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Seattle Children’s Announces Decade-Long “It Starts With Yes” Campaign Surpassed Fundraising Goal With $1.4B Raised

Caleb’s family moved to three different states searching for experts who could provide the best care for his life-threatening, chronic intestinal disorder. Now Caleb is 10 and loves playing basketball, badminton and video games. He still experiences ups and downs on his medical journey – but thanks to community support, Caleb’s care team helps him thrive at every age and developmental stage. During the Yes campaign, more than 70 patients and their families served as ambassadors, sharing their experiences to inspire our community.

Seattle Children’s launched its $1 billion fundraising initiative,  It Starts With Yes: The Campaign For Seattle Children’s  to transform childhood health and change the odds for all kid-kind.

At the end of 2021, the Yes campaign closed with greater success than expected, surpassing its initial goal of $1 billion, raising $1.4 billion. Last year alone, donors contributed more than $223.7 million – more than any year in Seattle Children’s fundraising history. Read full post »


Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Program Expansion at Seattle Children’s Serves Growing Need

A baby with sensors on their chest.

Seattle Children’s is expanding the bronchopulmonary dysplasia program

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a long-lasting form of lung disease affecting babies born prematurely. Their lungs are not fully formed and are sometimes damaged, and they need extra oxygen through a tube placed into their nose or more support to survive, grow and develop.

BPD also is called chronic lung disease of prematurity. The number of newborns with BPD has risen as more and more babies survive being born many weeks before their due date. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 newborns develop BPD in the United States each year.

In this Q&A, Dr. Gregory Redding,  division chief of the Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Division at Seattle Children’s and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, shares details on Seattle Children’s expanding Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Program.

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