CHKD Patient Stories by Decade
Karen Lints Lindquist, 1964
Karen Lints Lindquist still has the hand puppet she was given at the hospital door. The year was 1964. She was 8 years old, and she still recalls looking up as she was wheeled into surgery to see a ceiling painted with clouds and stars.
Lindquist was born and raised in Norfolk. During her second stay at CHKD in 1968, she remembers one young resident who assisted in a surgical procedure for her cleft palate: Dr. William Magee, who went on to become famous for cleft lip and palate surgery through his international charity, Operation Smile.
Her attending surgeon was just as impressive: the late Dr. Charles Horton, who pioneered several important procedures at CHKD and went on to establish Physicians for Peace. Lindquist also remembers that "about 10 or 12 plastic surgeons from around the world were there to observe the innovative pharyngeal-flap surgery I was having.”
Still a Norfolk resident, Lindquist is a business owner and mother of two healthy children who, fortunately, never needed treatment at CHKD. “I received excellent care at the hospital,” she adds. “And the nurses were so nice to me.”
Jason Fond, 1976
Jason Sean Fond’s story began right after he came into the world in 1976 at Hampton General Hospital. His arrival was followed by a speedy ride to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.
Cathy and Hjalmar Fond of Seaford hadn’t expected problems with their first child’s birth, but in the labor room they knew something was wrong. “Every time I had a contraction, the baby’s heart stopped,” Cathy recalls. Jason was whisked to CHKD, miles away from his family, but in the best place he could possibly be under the circumstances. At the time, CHKD’s NICU was still in its infancy, having opened in 1975. And the first neonatal transport ambulance had just been put into service. Jason was among the first children to be transported from a Peninsula hospital.
Jason wasn’t breathing on his own, and the CHKD transport team had to revive him before he arrived at CHKD. He was in the NICU for 35 days fighting pneumonia, hypoxia and other respiratory problems.
“My mom has always reminded me that I probably wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for CHKD,” Jason says. Now 34, he lives near Fort Worth, Texas, where he works for Hewlett-Packard Enterprises Services. He and his wife, Allison, have a 3-year-old daughter.
In 1977, his mother was interviewed for an article in the Daily Press about her experiences at CHKD. “It was scary for us,” Cathy told the reporter. “But the nursing care at CHKD is fantastic. They took care of us as well as our baby. And when he was ready to go home, they helped me learn all the things I needed to do when we got home – even how to diaper him and give him a bath.”
Today Cathy says she’ll never forget their CHKD experience. “We will be eternally grateful.”
Matt Harrell, 1985
In late 1985, Matt Harrell looked the picture of health, an adorable 3-year-old, smiling and playing with his big brother, Chris. It was impossible to tell that two months earlier, renal failure had nearly killed him.
Matt’s illness had come on without warning. His mother, Karen Harrell, went quickly from phoning the pediatrician about her fussy child to praying for his survival at his hospital bedside.
Matt was suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome – HUS – a rare, life-threatening kidney disease that required the experience of CHKD’s pediatric specialists.
After nearly three weeks of dialysis in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and pulling through a potentially deadly heart complication, Matt, his family and his care team were overjoyed when his kidneys began to function and eventually returned to normal.
While Matt has few memories of that experience, he does remember the times that followed as he continued seeing the renal specialists at CHKD over the years. And when he was 16, he was diagnosed with diabetes by a CHKD endocrinologist.
“Finding out that I was diabetic on top of everything else was hard,” Matt recalls. “It was a big lifestyle change, but Dr. [Reuben] Rohn helped me through and showed me how to manage it.”
Matt’s challenges didn’t end there. “By 18, my kidney function had deteriorated. I needed either dialysis or a transplant,” he said. “My mom was a perfect match.” Since his transplant surgery, Matt says he’s “100 percent better.”
He has fond memories of CHKD. “People always knew my name,” he says. “It was comforting.”
The Corleto Triplets, 1992
Arriving three months early, triplets Meagan, Jennifer and Christine Corleto weighed a scant two pounds apiece at birth. Needing time to grow and get stronger before going home, they spent their first few weeks of life in the CHKD
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Their parents, David and Jamie, admitted being overwhelmed by the thought of bringing them home to Virginia Beach. “Jennifer and Christine came home first,” Jamie said. “Meagan stayed five months because of a heart problem.”
Meagan’s heart defect required surgery soon after the triplets were born. “I have never been as frightened as when she was so tiny and had to have open-heart surgery,” Jamie recalls. But the tiny girl thrived after surgery and a few more months in the hospital. She returned to CHKD’s cardiology specialists for annual checkups but had no further heart problems.
Today, the girls fill their home with chatter, music and activities typical of teenagers. All are good students, their mom reports. Christine and Jennifer love competitive running and belong to their school’s track team, spending much of their time in training. Meagan prefers music, talking on the phone and reading.
“The best thing is that they are never sick,” Jamie said. “I couldn’t ask for a healthier family. We never had any major health problems after they came home from the hospital.”
Ava Ganeshan, 2005
Ava Ganeshan’s parents thought her malaise was due to strep throat. But her primary care physician in Williamsburg told her parents, Ram Ganeshan and Tonya Boone, that he suspected something more serious. He sent them to CHKD’s Emergency Center, where they learned their 3-year-old daughter had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
It was a terrifying turn of events. “At first I didn’t want to believe it was possible,” Tonya recalls. “We were frightened. I kept wanting it to be something else.”
They learned much more about their child’s disease while she was treated at CHKD’s Cancer Center over the next months. Most importantly, they learned Ava’s chances for a cure were excellent. Ava’s parents discovered that they could enroll Ava in a clinical research trial at CHKD in conjunction with the national Children’s Oncology Group, further guaranteeing Ava would have access to the best care for leukemia without leaving Hampton Roads.
After Ava finished her treatments, her parents said they’re grateful they decided to include their daughter in the research study. Adds Tonya: “It was a really good decision for Ava.”