30th Birthday Countdown - Days 25-21
Day 25 (August 31st): Kyle Gray (3 years old)
Kyle was born at just 26 weeks at a hospital in Chicago. During his stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit he developed necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition primarily seen in premature infants where the lining of the intestinal wall dies and the tissue falls off. Following seven surgeries in Chicago the family moved to Phoenix. Kenneth, Kyle’s 5 year old brother also has cerebral palsy. Knowing they would both need ongoing care, and that Kyle would eventually require a kidney transplant, their mom says that finding the right medical home for her sons was challenging. “Phoenix Children's Hospital was the fourth facility we tried, and it’s been amazing to say the least,” says Kyla. “Dr. Joseph is so good with Kyle. I’ve never seen a doctor get along so well with children.”
The Department of Nephrology at Phoenix Children's Hospital is the largest treatment center in the Southwest for infants, children, and adolescents with kidney (renal) disorders and high blood pressure (hypertension).The Nephrology Department has two employees that have worked at Phoenix Children’s for more than 25 years.
Day 24 (Sept 1): Aiden Morales (9 years old)
Aiden plays basketball, swims, and last year at Heart Camp climbed the rock wall all the way to the top – one of his proudest moments. These are all things his mom, Jennifer, worried he wouldn’t be able to do when she learned during her pregnancy that Aiden had tricuspid atresia. He was missing the valve that controls blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle. Aiden had his first surgery at Phoenix Children’s at 6 months, and more at ages 2, 3 and 9. “Many times I look at him with amazement because he will never know what he went through. But I do and I’m so proud,” says his mom, who considers her family Phoenix Children’s “alumni” now. “We know how strong we are now, and we don’t sweat the small stuff because you never know what the future holds.”
The Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is one of the premier units in the Southwest that is dedicated to the care of children with congenital heart disease. Comprised of pediatric cardiac critical care physicians with specialized training and expertise with congenital heart disease, these medical professionals are primarily responsible for supervising the clinical care of critically-ill patients admitted for surgery, cardiac catheterization, or medical illness. The CVICU has 24 inpatient beds.
Day 23 (Sept 2) Nathan Contreras (8 years old)
“Cystic Fibrosis is a disease with no mercy,” says Nathan’s mom Lesli. She knows all too well. Her son was diagnosed with the disease at just 10 weeks old. The chronic disease clogs the lungs and can lead to life-threatening infections. It can also render the body unable to break down and absorb food. Today, approximately 220 children and 150 adults are cared for at the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the “High Five Hospital” – what Nathan has called Phoenix Children’s since he was a small child and could see the heart in hand logo from the freeway. Nathan has recurring medical issues and for five years couldn’t eat food and received his nutrition through a feeding tube. But the disease hasn’t slowed Nathan down or hampered his zest for life. He says his greatest accomplishments are being a friend to others and making people laugh.
The Cystic Fibrosis Center at Phoenix Children's was the first program in Arizona to be accredited by the national Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This program provides services for both children and adult patients with cystic fibrosis. On average the Cystic Fibrosis Center sees 23 patients per week.
Day 22 (Sept 3) Joel Andrews (5 years old)
When Joel was 4 months old his mom took him to his pediatrician for a regular checkup. What she expected to be a 15 minute appointment ended up lasting two hours, after the doctor recognized some light brown spots on his skin. Those spots turned out to be the telltale sign of neurofibromatosis type 1, a condition where tumors grow along the nerves of the skin, brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. Neurosurgeons found a tumor in his cervical spine area, and Joel had surgery to have his C4 vertebrae removed and C3 to C6 vertebrae fused. “Dr. Theodore was one of only 12 surgeons in the country who could perform that surgery, so we felt very lucky that Joel was in his care,” said Joel’s mom, Jolyn. Joel continues to be monitored for tumors and an optic glioma, which could cause blindness if it grows. “We’re not out of the woods, but he’s such a spirited, happy-go-lucky little boy. Life gives us challenges and the families here all have their own battles. Phoenix Children's is here for the big and little dramas raising children can bring.”
At Phoenix Children's Hospital, funding enabled the divisions of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, and psychology to come together in one such collaboration: the Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. On average, they perform 22 surgeries a month.
Day 21 (Sept 4): Emma Tafoya (1 year old)
Emma was born with several birth defects; cloacal exstrophy, spina bifida aculta, a clubbed foot and short gut syndrome. “We had the best team of surgeons a person could ask for,” says her mom Jacque. Emma is still followed by an entire team of specialists – all under one roof. “Our little girl is a fighter and we know in our hearts that she will continue to defy the odds and amaze all of her doctors and surgeons. With the team we have anything is possible!”
The Reproductive Anomalies and Disorders of Sexual Development Clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is the only program in the region that provides a comprehensive approach to caring for children who are born with a malformation of the reproductive system. The clinic sees, on average, 21 new patients a year.
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