Stories about: NICU

Dalton’s legacy: Avery’s heart, Cheryl’s hope

heart-transplant-averyDalton Lawyer is forever 8. He’s a big brother. He’s a leader. And he’s a hero — an organ donor who’s saved four lives and provided hope to many, many more.

Avery Toole is 12. She’s an only child — with three older brothers.

Dalton and Avery’s lives intersected in 2009.

Dalton was riding his bike, while on a family vacation.

Avery, 5, was at Boston Children’s Hospital, her life hanging in the balance. She had been on the transplant list, waiting for a heart for 52 days.

Dalton was struck by a truck.

One week after the accident, Dr. Elizabeth Blume, medical director of the Boston Children’s Heart Transplant Program, phoned Avery’s parents Cheryl and Mike Toole. She had “the perfect heart” for Avery.

“We knew Dalton didn’t need his organs wherever he was going,” says Dalton’s father Jim Lawyer. Jim, an anesthesiologist, and his wife Jeri, an operating room nurse, donated their son’s organs.

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Two perfect reasons to pay it forward

GetMediaPreview-2In 2008, Katie and Paul Litterer were living in New York City and expecting identical twins. When Katie was 26 weeks pregnant, they bought a house near Boston to be closer to family. The following week, Katie went into early labor, resulting in an emergency C-section and the premature birth of their daughters. Their new house would remain empty for months.

Sophie arrived first at a tiny 1 pound, 15 ounces and let out a cry. Maddie followed her sister at an even tinier 1 pound, 10 ounces. “I didn’t hear anything,” Katie remembers. “They just ran out of the room with her.”

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Media Moment: Media as a Way to Connect With Your Children

groff familyDear Reader,
Welcome to another Media Moment! This month, Laura Groff, an MA in Biblical Languages, college swim coach and mother of four, shares how she was able to use a TV show to help connect with her oldest son during the hospitalization of her youngest child who was born prematurely. These stories are meant to help create a village square of commiserating and co-celebrating the many ways media intersect with the lives of children. Please comment and even submit your own ‘Moment’ to share with your fellow readers.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
~The Mediatrician®

Media as a Way to Connect With Your Children

Going from kid number 3 to kid number 4 did not seem like a big deal in my head. What’s one more right? I had done this three other times.  I knew what to expect, what to anticipate and how to help the older three cope. What I did not anticipate was going into labor at 29 weeks, an ambulance ride to Boston in the middle of night and the disconnect with my older kids that fear and anxiety bring.

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Tale of two mothers: Bridge between families facing rare diseases brings hope

L-R Nora O'Brien-Lemanski, Callum O'Brien-Lemanski, Ella Shea
L-R Nora O’Brien-Lemanski, Callum O’Brien-Lemanski, Ella Shea

Toward the end of Ella Shea’s three-month stay in Boston Children’s Hospital in 2011, when doctors shared the x-rays that showed the treatment for her rare disease was working, her parents were overjoyed. Ella had beat GACI (generalized arterial calcification of infancy), an extremely rare disease with an 85 percent mortality rate.

Her mother Carrie had another thought—the next family facing this diagnosis will have more answers than we did.

Carrie’s hunch ultimately blossomed into something much bigger. She and her husband Michael forged a tremendous bond with another Boston Children’s family struggling with GACI and paved the way for a network of families supporting each other as they parent children with GACI.

Two years later, after an ultrasound showed brightness indicative of calcium in her unborn baby’s aorta, Christine O’Brien found herself Googling “arterial calcification on fetal ultrasound.”

“What I read was heartbreaking. The results pointed to GACI. There had only been 100 cases worldwide, and there is no specific treatment. Most babies die from a heart attack in the first year of life.”

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