Stories about: lung disease

For the love of Sharieff: A father dedicates his life to his son’s complex medical care

Photos by Katherine C. Cohen 


On an unseasonably warm day in February, the sun shines brightly at Clasky Common Park, a New Bedford town gem with views of the river. Twenty-one-year old Sharieff Hester sports a pair of cherry-red shades and a big smile. He walks confidently around the park, his father and sole caretaker David Hester dutifully following behind, checking in often. “Are you cold son?” he asks. Sharieff answers through his tracheostomy, “I’m fine, Dad.”

David stops to adjust his son’s scarf and offer him a sip of water. “We have a routine every morning. The first thing I do is hug Sharieff and tell him how much I love him. Then I make sure his trach is clean and dry, and we say a prayer together.”

Sharieff has been cared for at Boston Children’s Hospital since his birth in 1994. His main diagnoses are Arthrogryposis, a rare congenital condition characterized by stiff joints and abnormally developed muscles; Klippel-Feil syndrome, a rare birth defect that causes some of the neck vertebrae to fuse together; restrictive lung disease; and pulmonary hypertension.

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A gentler breath of fresh air for premature babies

Maggie.070709-1Nearly 13 percent of U.S. babies are born prematurely, according to a recent report from the March of Dimes. These babies face a host of health problems – including taking their first breath, which for a premature newborn can be difficult if not impossible. Preemies are frequently placed on ventilators to pump oxygen into their tiny, immature lungs, but this treatment is often part of the problem: the constant air pressure from the ventilators can cause inflammation and lead to chronic lung disease. Now, however, there’s an alternative.

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