By the time the ambulance arrived at the Greens’ Hampton home, 10-week-old Jeremiah Green was alive again. With guidance from the 911 operator, his dad, Jason, had revived him on the kitchen table while Jeremiah’s mother, Jessica, looked on in terror.
From an ER near the Greens’ home, the CHKD transport team rushed Jeremiah to CHKD, where doctors confirmed what his parents had suspected for the previous eight weeks: Jeremiah’s breathing problems weren’t the result of a simple respiratory virus, as they’d been repeatedly told.
In CHKD’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, pediatric intensivists, ENT specialists and cardiologists collaborated on tests, consulted with colleagues and quickly made the diagnosis: Jeremiah was born with a rare congenital defect known as a vascular ring, which circled and compressed his trachea, making every breath a challenge. The team called in CHKD’s chief cardiac surgeon, who operated on Jeremiah, dividing the ring.
Only a week after he had stopped breathing, Jeremiah was back at home with his parents and two older brothers. Today, he is thriving. “Everyone at CHKD was wonderful,” Jessica says. “While Jeremiah was there, I watched the doctors and nurses treat each child as if he was their own.”
Cidney Graham had complained of headaches for several days before her mother found her in her room curled in a fetal position, sweating, shaking and unaware of her surroundings. An ambulance whisked the little girl, then 6, to the ER closest to their Virginia Beach home. When doctors there saw the results of a CT scan of Cidney’s head, they called the CHKD transport team.
Cidney’s brain was dangerously swollen, and the transport team arrived to find her in very grave condition. Under the direction of a CHKD pediatric intensivist, the team quickly stabilized Cidney for the trip to CHKD, where she was taken immediately into surgery. There, pediatric neurosurgeons discovered a massive abscess on her brain. They inserted shunts to drain excess fluid and infected material, and worked with infectious disease specialists to determine the best treatment to battle her infection.
It took two months of antibiotics, three more surgeries and weeks of inpatient rehab for Cidney to regain the strength and skills she lost, but the determined little girl walked out of CHKD – thanks in large part to the team who rushed her there safely on the night she almost lost her life.
Alexis “Lexi” DeSue was only 3 years old when she started complaining of backaches. When the pain wouldn’t go away, her parents brought her to CHKD. “We went in one morning to have blood work done,” her father, Damon, remembers. “We were eating lunch there, and they said we needed to come back up to the clinic. They told us then and there: Lexi had leukemia.”
Damon made a promise to himself to get his young daughter the best cancer treatment available, even if that meant leaving the area. But he learned no travel was necessary; Lexi could get the most advanced treatment right at CHKD.
Damon is grateful for Lexi’s treatment and proud that she helped others by participating in cancer research. “Lexi has contributed more in her short years,” he says, “than most people do in a lifetime.”
After a normal, full-term pregnancy, Meredith Ashley had no reason to suspect that her newborn son would need lifesaving treatment in CHKD’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a place typically associated with premature births.
But from his first breath at Sentara Williamsburg Hospital, it was clear that Noah was close to death. Because of a rare condition in which the placenta pumps blood from baby to mother, Noah’s brain had experienced severe hypoxia, or prolonged oxygen deprivation. In 80 percent of cases like his, the result is brain damage or death.
Fortunately, CHKD neonatologist Thomas Bass, a preeminent researcher in neonatal hypoxia, had pioneered a treatment that consists of cooling an hypoxic newborn’s body and brain immediately after birth.
After being rushed to the NICU by CHKD’s transport team, Noah was placed on a cooling blanket that lowered his temperature to 91 degrees. Three days later, Dr. Bass and his team gradually warmed Noah’s body and he began to exhibit normal brain function. Today, Noah is healthy, happy and hitting all his developmental milestones, without any hint he was born at high risk for irreversible brain damage.
After reviewing her lab work, Xyla King’s doctor told her that the extra weight she was carrying was putting her at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Xyla was only 9 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that in the last 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled. Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease often await those children. Many also face depression, social stigma and poor self-esteem, along with high rates of sleep apnea and asthma.
Fortunately, Xyla was able to lose weight and get healthy through CHKD’s weight management program for children and teens. “The program has changed my life,” Xyla says. “It has taught me how to live and eat healthier, how to have fun exercising and the importance of always thinking highly of myself.” In 2010, Xyla was one of 131 children who participated in
Healthy You for Life.
Jallage Johnson spent more than two-and-a-half years – almost her entire lifetime – in CHKD’s Transitional Care Unit. But thanks to the dedicated TCU team and her pediatricians and surgeons, Jallage is now home. “She is truly a miracle baby,” says Lisa Calascibetta, TCU operations coordinator.
The TCU helps children who are dependent on technology – ventilators in most cases – make the transition home or to permanent care. Some patients stay in the unit as long as two to three years, so staff members must ensure that their physical, emotional, social, developmental and educational needs are met. They do this by working closely with family members and customizing a team approach to each child’s daily care. At CHKD, Medicaid covers 65 percent of Transitional Care Unit days.
These stories were featured in the
2011 Community Benefits issue of KidStuff, a publication of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.
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