Stories about: Research and Innovation

What you need to know about liver tumors in children

Young boy in hospital for liver tumor treatment
Ziad was treated for hepatocellular carcinoma by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “It is exceedingly rare for hepatocellular carcinoma to occur in a child of Ziad’s age,” says Dr. Allison O’Neill.

Pediatric liver tumors are rare, comprising only 1 percent of all childhood cancers. There are two main types of liver tumors in children:

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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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How mitochondrial transplantation saved Avery’s life

Avery Gagnon looks into the camera. She received mitochondrial transplantation to help her heart regain its energy.Today, 2 1/2 year-old Avery Gagnon looks perfectly healthy and happy.

But Avery is only alive today because of a revolutionary therapy called mitochondrial transplantation that used her own mitochondria — small structures in our cells that act as the “batteries” powering our organs — to boost her heart’s energy.

Mitochondrial transplantation comes to the rescue of hearts suffering from ischemia, a condition of reduced blood flow that damages mitochondria. As a result of its energy-sapping effects, ischemia is especially dangerous for the frailest cardiac patients: infants with congenital heart disease like Avery.

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Sports specialization and injury risk for young athletes

Kocher sports specialization Thriving blog

In recent years, sports specialization has become a hot topic amongst both parents of young athletes and medical professionals. There are a lot of questions swirling around early specialization: When should my child begin to focus on just one sport year-round? Are there injury risks associated with specialization? Does specializing in one sport provide a significant benefit for their skill development?

While answers to these questions aren’t always straightforward, in a recent study Dr. Mininder Kocher, an orthopedic surgeon and associate director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Division, found some compelling evidence of the risks of early sports specialization.

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