On the Pulse

Benson’s miraculous journey from micro-preemie to on-the-move toddler

The Borgen familyYears ago I was listening to a radiothon for Seattle Children’s Hospital while driving in my car. I was so moved by the patients’ stories of hope and healing, I had to pull into a parking lot because I was crying so hard. I called the number and made a donation – never dreaming that I would have more than a “goodwill” relationship with the hospital.

Fast forward to 2012.

I heard that same radiothon in the car. My eyes swelled with tears and my throat tightened, this time because my newborn son was one of those patients in a bed at Children’s.

My name is Breanna Borgen. They say life can turn on a dime and that was certainly true for my husband, Erik, and me.

Early in our first pregnancy all seemed to be going well when I very unexpectedly went into labor at 25 weeks. Though my doctors did everything they could to stop my delivery, our son Benson was born almost four months early on Sept. 11, 2011, at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). He weighed a pound and a half, measured 11 inches long and immediately received a breathing tube because he couldn’t breathe on his own.

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A dedication to pediatric research: The man behind the largest charitable gift in Seattle Children’s history

Jack Rupert MacDonald

Jack Rupert MacDonald

UPDATE: In honor of Jack MacDonald’s $75.04 million legacy gift to Seattle Children’s Research Institute, we will name the Research Institute’s Building 1 in his honor. Effective Jan. 31, the new name of Building 1, which is located in downtown Seattle, will be the Jack R. MacDonald Building. Signage on the building reflecting the new name will be up by the end of this month.

Today, Seattle Children’s announced it has received the single largest charitable gift in its 106-year history, and also the largest known gift to a U.S. children’s hospital for pediatric research. The landmark bequest, a $187.6 million charitable trust from the estate of Jack Rupert MacDonald, was given to Seattle Children’s, the University of Washington (UW) School of Law and The Salvation Army – organizations that held great meaning for Jack.

Each year, the three organizations will receive income earned by the trust. Children’s will receive 40 percent of the yearly income, which in the first year will equate to approximately $3.75 million. MacDonald’s pledge to Children’s was first announced in 2011 as being anonymous.

At Children’s, MacDonald’s legacy will be used to fund pediatric research taking place at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Jack decided to support research when he learned it was an important priority for the hospital and will support the organization’s quest to find better treatments and cures for childhood disease worldwide.

“Jack’s gift is an inspiration to all of us. It is one of the largest ever to a children’s hospital. And it is the largest single gift in support of pediatric research,” said Doug Picha, President of Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation and a friend to Jack for many years. “It is transformational not only in what it will do to help us find more cures and better treatments, but also by forcing each of us personally to reflect on the legacy we would like to leave.”

So, you may ask, who was Jack MacDonald? Who was the man behind this incredible gift that will impact so many lives for generations to come?

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How a Purple Knitted Cap Can Protect a Baby’s Brain

For months, Amy Owens has been seeing purple.

Little, hand-knitted purple caps are overflowing from giant bags in the Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program office at Seattle Children’s, where she is senior program coordinator. Hats are spilling out of cabinets, covering her keyboard and peeking out of overstuffed envelopes under her desk.

By the end of November, each of these 3,600-plus purple hats will be cradling the head of a newborn at a birthing hospital in Washington state.

The hats will remind their parents that it’s normal for babies to cry – and often, there is nothing a parent can do to stop it.

Research shows that prolonged, unrelenting crying is the number one reason parents (and other caregivers) shake a baby. Research also shows that simply understanding the normal pattern of infant crying and learning a few coping skills significantly reduces the likelihood that a child will be shaken or abused.

Thanks to the Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program team at Children’s, parents of newborns in Washington are learning about crying and coping before they leave the hospital through a video-based training program called “Period of PURPLE Crying.”

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Quingo makes gaming fun and charitable, helping fund pediatric research

Screenshot - choose your charityPlaying games for charity may sound too good to be true, but that’s exactly what Brandon Bozzi, Morgan Belford and their Seattle startup Game it Forward had in mind when they created Quingo, a game which benefits six organizations, including Seattle Children’s. Quingo, which combines charitable giving, bingo and trivia, supports Children’s by donating a portion of its revenue to fund hospital specific initiatives, like research.

As research is a primary focus at Children’s, a project was created with Quingo to help exclusively fund pediatric research that could one day lead to better treatments and new cures for childhood diseases.

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National Diabetes Month: Helping families manage the disease

SONY DSCOdds are you know someone with diabetes – a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or family friend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 million people in the U.S. currently have diabetes, and it is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents. About one in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes. That’s a lot of finger pricks and insulin shots, which is why, in recognition of National Diabetes Month, Seattle Children’s Hospital’s diabetes expert, Karen Aitken, ARNP, offers advice to parents to help manage a child’s diabetes. Read full post »

Going old school: Researcher encourages walking school bus to prevent childhood obesity

Walking school bus

More than one third of children and adolescents are obese or overweight, and more and more families are coming to Jason Mendoza, MD, MPH, for advice on how to help their kids lose extra pounds. But obesity treatments can be difficult to complete and are often expensive. Mendoza is testing a new approach that aims to prevent obesity using ideas from eras when obesity was uncommon.

“I’m looking at whether getting children to walk or ride their bikes to school can increase children’s physical activity and reduce their risk of obesity,” said Mendoza, a principal investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Washington.

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Silk Road online marketplace for illicit drugs reemerges, tips for parents

In today’s digital age, it seems you can find and buy almost anything online, of course with a few exceptions. However, this is shockingly more true than one would think with a website called the Silk Road. The name may sound harmless, but it’s actually an anonymous online market place for illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. The site uses software that hides a buyer’s search engine and reroutes their traffic to make purchases anonymous and untraceable.

Who would have thought an eBay for illicit drugs could exist?

The original Silk Road site was shut down in early October by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but headlines this week have reported that a new Silk Road site has emerged. The new site claims it offers enhanced security and privacy for users.

Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine division, was dumbfounded when she heard about the site at a symposium last week. She also learned that many teens are aware of how to get drugs online.

“What does this mean for parents of teens? To me, it re-enforces the need to monitor what our teens are doing on the internet,” said Evans. “I’m not endorsing sitting over their shoulders every time they’re on the Internet, but I do think parents should periodically check in.”

In a Teenology 101 blog post, Evans discusses this issue and offers tips for parents about how to best monitor and be aware of their teen’s online activity. She also advises that parents should trust their gut and if they are concerned about their teen’s Internet safety or possible drug use, they should have a conversation with them and talk with their doctor about resources.

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Halloween in the hospital

Kid Painting PumpkinHalloween is meant to be the spookiest night of year. Full of ghouls, goblins and ghosts, it’s the one time we delight in all things that go bump in the night. But for children and families who will be spending Halloween in the hospital, it’s difficult for them to enjoy the holiday festivities. This is why Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal Halloween retailer in North America, brings fantasy and fun to Seattle Children’s Hospital every Halloween, with costumes, crafts and pumpkin painting.

Since 2006, Spirit Halloween and their Spirit of Children Program has made sure every patient gets the opportunity to transform into the superhero, princess or character of their dreams. They also provide funding to Seattle Children’s through their Spirit of Children Program.

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Tips for having a nutritious Halloween

Halloween&PumpkinsThe leaves are changing colors, the temperature is dropping and pumpkins abound. Halloween is right around the corner and on the minds of every little ghoul and goblin are sweets, treats and the fun of trick-or-treating. But while most children are eagerly awaiting and planning for the candy filled holiday, many parents are wondering how to have fun while reducing the chance of stomach aches and sugar rushes.

Finding a healthy treat to distribute come Halloween night may sound more like a trick, but Mary Jones Verbovski, a clinical pediatric dietitian at Seattle Children’s Hospital, assures parents there are healthy alternatives and ways to incorporate candy into a child’s well-balanced diet.

“Children often get excited about Halloween because it’s the one time of the year that they know they’re going to get a lot of candy, but remember that all of the sugary treats can be hard on your child’s body,” said Jones Verbovski.

Halloween is meant to be fun, but overindulging in sweet treats doesn’t need to dominate a family’s Halloween traditions.

“As long as you treat candy and the holiday treats involved like they are special and ‘once-a-year,’ it can remain a happy and healthy holiday,” said Jones Verbovski. Read full post »

Wedding wish becomes a reality for patient family thanks to cancer care team

The Olivera's wedding day

Photo courtesy of Soulumination

Tuesday was a day that the Olivera family will never forget – It was a beautiful day of unity, celebration and joy. It was a bright spot in what has been one of the most challenging years of their lives.

Oct. 22 was the day that Saul and Alejandra Olivera were finally able to get married after three years of being engaged. “Making it official” was something they were very excited to do and something their 9-year-old daughter, Miranda, had wished for.

From a limo, cake, caterer and photographer, to a chocolate fountain (the most important element for Miranda) – the big day was complete. And it all became a reality, within one week’s time, thanks to three members of Miranda’s cancer care team at Seattle Children’s who made it happen with the help of the community.

“It was the most amazing day and we couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said Alejandra. “Everything was perfect and Miranda was so happy to be there and be a part of the celebration.”

Now, this wasn’t just any wedding – it was extraordinary. And in order to understand its significance, it’s important to understand the family’s journey, as well as the people that were behind the important day.

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