A new life for Lynkin after encephalocele surgery

Toddler with big personality is thriving after encephalocele surgery.When you meet Lynkin Bell, the first things you notice are her big personality and chubby cheeks. You might also see how she adores her brother Lukis and hamming it up for the camera. But you’d never guess that this playful 14-month-old from Texas wasn’t expected to survive, never mind talk, stand or play peekaboo like a pro.

And yet, thanks to her parents’ faith and persistence — and surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital — Lynkin can do all those things, and lots more, with the gusto befitting any toddler her age.

“It’s a miracle,” says Kaylen Gaston, Lynkin’s mom. “We were told so many times she wouldn’t make it, and here she is defying all odds.”

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Ask the expert: What is the female athlete triad and how can it be prevented?

Female athlete triad

The spring athletics season is in full swing and for those at the high school and college level, practices and game schedules can be intense. When you blend this physical commitment with the demands of a hectic academic schedule, sometimes maintaining healthy eating habits and positive energy balance can be challenging.

Dr. Kathryn Ackerman, medical director of Boston Children’s Female Athlete Program, shares important information about a condition called the female athlete triad and offers tools to keep young athletes healthy, energized and at the top of their game.

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He lost his sight to cancer, but not his vision of a full life

Man blind from leukemia climbs 14,000 ft. mountain after stem cell transplant.

When Tim Conners collected his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2012 at the age of 18, he was blind from childhood leukemia that had spread to his optic nerve and craving inspiration to transcend his disability. A football player and wrestler who’d never been an outdoorsman, he asked to meet Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on seven continents.

Tim’s wish came true. He had 2½ terrifying but transformative days of outdoor adventures in Colorado with Erik, who lost his sight to a degenerative eye disorder at 13.

Now Tim is training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the 19,000-foot peak in Tanzania in May, shortly after he graduates from Ithaca College. He’s already climbed four peaks in Colorado, including the 14,000-foot, snow- and loose-rock-covered Mount Sherman last summer. He’s trekked and rafted in the Grand Canyon.

“In a lot of ways, losing my sight gave me my vision,” says Tim.

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A life taken. A life given. A life shared.

Kaitlyn, donor, and Hannah, recipient
Kaitlyn and Hannah

When she read the article in the Cape Cod Times about the 11-year-old girl who underwent a life-saving liver transplant, Melissa Dunphe knew.

“Too many pieces fit for it not to be.”

She knew that the child, who was at the same hospital on the same floor on the same day, had to be the one who received her five-year-old daughter Kaitlyn’s liver.

Five years earlier, at eight months old, Kaitlyn was in a car accident that left her without the use of her limbs and unable to breathe on her own.

During her short life, her parents made moments matter.

“She was a very happy child,” her mom Melissa says. “She loved life — going for walks, having her nails painted and going to the beach. “We knew she wouldn’t live long, but I never expected it to be so soon.”

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