The Unforgettable Experience that Led Tina to Pay It Forward

Tina Janni was a pediatric patient at Seattle Children’s

At the young age of 12, Tina Janni began suffering from flu-like symptoms over the summer that rapidly escalated into kidney failure.

“I rode in an ambulance from Olympia, WA to Seattle Children’s Hospital,” she explained.

Though Janni recalls feeling frightened, a compassionate support system made a significant impact on her family during a deeply difficult time.

“I was fortunate that loneliness was never a complicating issue,” she said. “In addition to my parents, I remember nurses, care providers and staff who were a constant and calming presence during the two months I was a patient.”

Janni was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

HUS, which affects blood and blood vessels, occurs after a severe bowel infection with certain toxic strains of the E. coli bacteria.

A multidisciplinary team of experts from Nephrology and from what is known today as the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center (CBDC), carefully treated Janni’s condition with daily blood draws, dialysis, multiple blood transfusions and a dietician.

“One late night, a favorite nurse who regularly wore Hawaiian shirts, even entertained my parents and I with a song, singing quietly while he strummed his guitar,” she said. “To this day, I recall his kindness whenever I hear the ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ song.”

Gradually, Janni started feeling stronger and was healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital.

“I returned to school part-time, eventually full-time, and reconnected with friends and activities,” she said. “I’ve never been self-conscious of my abdominal scars. I value them as personal badges of honor that enabled me to survive.”

Decades later, Janni found herself back at Seattle Children’s — this time, as a workforce member on the People Solutions team.

“Now it’s my turn to reciprocate and pay it forward with the organization that saved my life,” she said. “I’m indebted to the doctors, nurses and staff that supported me and my family through an incredibly difficult and fearful chapter. I know firsthand that your work — in whatever way that you uniquely contribute to support our mission — matters a great deal. You may never meet those patients, but trust me, your impact continues to reverberate through time.”

This concludes the weekly On the Pulse series featuring Seattle Children’s employees who generously shared the life experiences that drove them to pursue careers in healthcare. View prior feature stories below: