Stories about: Our Patients’ Stories

Lessons from the Tin Man: Christopher follows his heart

Christopher, who was born with TGA and other heart defects, poses in the rooftop garden at Boston Children's.
PHOTO: SOPHIE FABBRI/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

When it comes to movies, 26-year-old Christopher Smith loves horror films. He counts It FollowsHush and Insidious among his top three. But his favorite movie of all time? The Wizard of Oz.

“I feel pretty connected to the Tin Man,” he says with a laugh.

Like the Tin Man, Smith has spent a lot of time thinking about his heart. Born with a number of complex heart conditions, including transposition of the great arteries (TGA), an atrial septal defect (ASD), a ventricular septal defect (VSD), complete heart block, congestive heart failure and dextrocardia, he’s had multiple surgeries and spent lots of time in the hospital.

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From brachial plexus birth injury to Division I athlete

Piper Hampsch lead image Thriving blog brachial plexus birth injury field hockey Duke
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF HAMPSCH FAMILY

“Other players and coaches don’t see the powerlessness behind my condition, or the struggles I’ve had to go through to get to where I’m at. They just see me making saves other people can’t make. It doesn’t matter if I have two arms, one arm or no arms.  As long as I make the save, they don’t care.” – Piper Hampsch

Piper is one of the best high school field hockey goalies in the country. She committed to Duke University last year as a sophomore, and will be playing college field hockey in 2020. In case you don’t closely follow collegiate field hockey, Duke was #1 in the nation last year in the final NCAA rankings. Safe to say, Piper is exceptional in her sport, and other teams and players take notice. But many of the athletes she plays against are unaware that Piper was also exceptional at birth.

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Life-changing second opinion for Jake uncovers rare urological anomaly

Jake plays golf after treatment for anterior urethral valves
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE GRESIS FAMILY

For most kids, going to the doctor ranks right up there with slogging through homework and cleaning their room — they’d rather be doing just about anything else. But 4-year-old Jake Gresis doesn’t mind traveling from his home in Virginia to see Dr. Richard Yu, director of the Robotic Surgery Program in the Department of Urology at Boston Children’s Hospital. “He always looks forward to coming to Boston,” says his mom, Wendy. “He’s well aware of what Dr. Yu has done for him.”

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Battling aplastic anemia: Clinical trial gives hope to Eli and his family

Eli, who has aplastic anemia, smiles while getting a transfusion
PHOTOS: SAM OGDEN

When Eli came home from baseball practice this past April with bruises on his body, his mom Jessica, an internal medicine specialist, and his dad Bryan, a trauma surgeon, didn’t think anything of it. “We assumed his coach was just throwing hard pitches, because every time Eli got hit with the ball, his skin bruised,” says Jessica. But 10-year-old Eli didn’t let a few bruises stop him. He continued to play baseball and basketball, work hard in his fifth grade classroom and goof off with his two younger sisters, 6-year-old Anna and 3-year-old Sarah.

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