Every day, families come to Scott & White in search of relief—relief from the pain and suffering their child is going through, and relief, ultimately, from the anxiety that every parent of a sick child feels.
At Scott & White Healthcare, we have a simple belief: the more we are able to support your family, the more your family can support your sick child, so we take care of your whole family—including parents, siblings, and other family members.
Read the stories of our patients below to discover how we approach pediatric care, how we support families, and ultimately, how we help the children of Central Texas heal, grow and thrive every day.
A mother just knows when something’s wrong. Two weeks had gone by and Pamela and Mike Deroon’s son, Cameron, still had no relief from pain medicine for persistent leg pain, fever, and bruising. Desperate to help their child, the Deroons, of Elmont, Texas, took their four-year-old son to an emergency room. Tests revealed abnormal blood counts, and so caregivers made arrangements to transfer Cameron to Scott & White immediately for additional evaluation. Guy Grayson, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, delivered the news to the Deerons: Cameron had Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The scars on her face and the limp in her walk are constant reminders of the fateful night when a drunk driver nearly took Kiara’s young life. Fortunately, Scott & White’s Bone and Joint Institute has helped her do something no one thought she would ever do again—walk.
On July 4, 2003, while Kiara was watching a fireworks display in the rural town of
Troy, Texas, a drunk driver’s car swerved out of control and slammed into the 10-year-old girl, pinning her between two vehicles. The impact instantly cut off Kiara’s right leg, severely injured her left leg, and caused massive injuries to the rest of her body. Kiara was taken by helicopter to Scott & White in Temple. Kiara’s injuries were so extensive that the first days following her injury were focused on saving her life.
Holly Orsag did everything she could to prepare for a healthy delivery of her baby boy in 2007. When Landon arrived, however, he was 14 weeks early and weighed just 30 ounces.
It was critical that he be immediately transferred from the hospital where he was born, and put in the expert care of the pediatric specialists at the Children’s Hospital at Scott & White. Time was of the essence as very shortly after his birth, Landon had developed life-threatening pulmonary emphysema, due to his undeveloped lungs.
The neonatal transport team from Scott & White arrived via helicopter and sprung into action. They delivered life-saving respiratory breaths from equipment inside the chopper, specifically outfitted with a temperature-controlled airborne incubator, or isolette. The helicopter also offered a high-frequency ventilator that pumped air into the newborn’s tiny lungs, giving him a fighting chance.
Soon the team and Landon were on their way to the Children’s Hospital, and Landon would begin a three-month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Jenni and Army Staff Sergeant Jonathan Wichers, now have two reasons to celebrate: the health of their son and Sergeant Wichers’ safe return from Iraq.
In April 2010, Jenni Wichers, of Crockett, Texas, and her family gathered at her parents’ home to celebrate. Her husband, Jonathan, had returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq the day before. But while eating lunch, the Wichers realized their three-year-old son, Nate, was not at the table.
“We looked up, and I said, ‘Where’s Nate?’” Mrs. Wichers recalls. Minutes later, her husband found Nate at the bottom of the family pool. The father dove in, pulled the boy out, and immediately began giving him CPR. Nate was breathing again but remained unconscious when the helicopter arrived for the flight to Scott & White in Temple.
When the helicopter touched down on Scott & White’s rooftop helipad, “a whole team of people met us,” Mrs. Wichers says. Doctors rushed Nate to the Emergency Department, and a chaplain and nurse sat down with Mrs. Wichers to explain what the physicians would do to save Nate’s life.
Jenny Harvey, of Belton, Texas, was 23 weeks pregnant and preparing for the birth of twin girls when she unexpectedly started to dilate. Obstetrician Belinda Kohl-Thomas, MD, admitted Mrs. Harvey to Scott & White to prevent the twins from being born too soon.
However, four days later, on December 27, 2008, Jenny gave birth to the first twin. Huntleigh lived just 10 hours.
Grieving and feeling terrified, Mrs. Harvey remained in the hospital on bed rest, and a week later she gave birth to Ryleigh. She weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces and was immediately brought to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where she remained for 88 days. The tiny infant faced several challenges, including a bacterial infection, surgery to repair a heart condition, and prolonged use of a high-frequency ventilator to help her breathe. The neonatal team was quick to intervene to ensure that Ryleigh avoided any setbacks.
Tanner Belanger, of Lampasas, Texas, was born at Scott & White, played street hockey up and down its halls, and slept at the hospital on his prom night. His long battle with a chronic lung disease has been difficult, but he has always had a team of Scott & White caregivers at his side, cheering him on.
When he was 20 months old, Tanner was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that shuts down the lungs’ ability to clear themselves of mucus and infection. He weighed just 13 pounds. Now 20 years old, Tanner graduated from Lampasas High School two years ago with the help of his “second family”—the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and other staff on Scott & White’s pediatric pulmonology team. “They’ve known me my whole life. They’re like family,” says Tanner.
Tanner was frequently ill as a baby. “If you look at his baby calendar, every month I was taking him into Scott & White for something,” says his mom, Rhonda Coonrod. When he contracted pneumonia in both lungs, the medical team decided to do some more tests, and Tanner’s cystic fibrosis was discovered.
Jessica Sotomayor, U.S. Army Specialist, was supposed to deliver her son Damien at Darnall Medical Center at Fort Hood, where Mrs. Sotomayor lives. But when she showed up with contractions, there was no room. “Everyone else was giving birth that day, so they sent me to Scott & White,” she says.
The logistical snafu turned out to be a blessing in disguise after Damien experienced respiratory trauma during the delivery that left him unable to breathe. Mrs. Sotomayor spent many hours in labor, during which time Damien ingested meconium. The sticky substance (which is the newborn’s first feces), coats the lining of the lungs and keeps the infant from breathing normally. Meconium aspiration occurs in fewer than 1 in 2,000 births, and most of the time, doctors can clear the meconium from an infant’s mouth before it is inhaled.
But Damien’s case was complicated.
“Damien was very sick,” Mrs. Sotomayor recalls. “I was really hoping for the best—that he’d make it home.” Damien spent three days in the Scott & White Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before doctors took an even more drastic measure. They applied extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to help Damien’s tiny lungs, which were unable to oxygenate his blood. ECMO is highly sophisticated technology that supports heart and lung function; it’s also used on adults during heart surgery. Scott & White was the only facility between San Antonio and Dallas to offer ECMO when Damien was born.
Machines keeping track of vital signs beep at steady intervals. Pain medications are adjusted. And a little boy stares blankly at the television in the corner of the room, waiting for the next procedure in a day filled with treatments, poking and prodding.
But the monotony of the day is interrupted when an unusual visitor comes into his hospital room—a therapy dog named Zeke.
“[The boy] was having a terrible time,” said Jan Upchurch, Director of the Child Life Program. “Then he got up and walked down the hallway with Zeke and his trainer, Kristy, and the boy’s mom said it was the first time he’d smiled since he’d been in the hospital.”
For many children being treated in the Children’s Hospital at Scott & White, hospital life can become disheartening. But with the addition of the therapy animal program, the hospital’s smallest patients have something to look forward to.
“For some of our long-term kids, who are in the hospital for days and sometimes weeks at a time, they are really missing their pets,” said Jaclyn Meeks, a Child Life specialist. “So, to be able to spend some time with an animal is a real joy for them.”
Ms. Upchurch said the therapy animals allow the children to connect emotionally in ways they can’t with adults. “We’ve had times where kids have been there a while and they haven’t talked to any of the staff members, but they’ll talk to Zeke,” said Zeke’s handler Kristy Tyler.
When a child is sick, it affects the whole family. That’s why the Children’s Hospital at Scott & White takes a family-centered approach toward each child in our care.
When Brian and Amy Nicholson, of Hewitt, Texas, brought their then three-year-old daughter, Reese to the emergency room for what they thought was a urinary tract infection, they got some devastating news. The preschooler had a rare form of kidney cancer.
Now, five-years-old and 100 percent healthy, Reese and her family wanted to pass the kindness they were shown forward to other families struggling with pediatric cancer.
The Rentas family is one in a million. Josiah, Cariel, and Xavier Rentas all have an extremely rare inherited blood disorder that leaves them nearly blind and vulnerable to bruising and life-threatening bleeding, even during normal activities. Hermansky Pudlak Syndrome (HPS) is a genetic disease so rare that many physicians, even those who specialize in blood-related disorders, have never heard of it. Worldwide, HPS affects about 3,000 people of Puerto Rican descent.
One sunny afternoon, 10-year-old Noah Howard, of Belton, Texas, was doing what he’d done many times before. He picked up his Rip Stick skateboard and headed out to his neighborhood where he and his friends loved to carve the pavement. But the late afternoon fun soon took a fast turn. Noah fell off his board and hit his head. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Two years ago, when she was almost 38 weeks pregnant, Sabrina Reed became alarmed by her baby’s sudden inactivity in her womb. The wife of Army Staff Sergeant Travis Reed, now stationed in Kuwait, Mrs. Reed contacted doctors at Fort Hood’s Darnell Army Medical Center. Within a few hours after arriving at the hospital, she had a placental abruption, a very serious condition in which the baby may be denied oxygen and the mother may bleed heavily. Mrs. Reed's doctor performed an emergency Caesarean section. "When I saw Hunter, he was completely limp," she recalls. The Reeds were frightened, but became hopeful when they learned their tiny son would be transferred to Scott & White.
Not even a year ago, then three-year-old Reagan Whitson of Belton, TX, was playing on the porch of her home while her dad, Clayton, was mowing the lawn. Mr. Whitson did not realize that Reagan had hopped off the porch until he turned around with the lawn mower and Reagan’s leg got caught under the blade, slicing her calf muscle clear down to the heel bone. Horrified, Mr. Whitson called 911. Harker Heights paramedics rushed Reagan to Scott & White’s main hospital in Temple, TX. The multidisciplinary trauma team, which included Dr. Mahabir, assessed the situation and concluded that Reagan had lost the majority of her calf muscle and heel bone, and was in serious danger of losing her foot.
Maya was due to be born on April 19, 2010. However, on December 21, 2009, Maya’s mother, Kristy, went into early labor and was transported by ambulance from Waco to Scott & White Hospital – Temple. Her obstetrician had specifically requested this location, as he knew the two on-staff perinatologists were the only hope for the child’s survival.
When nurse Autumn enters the room, young patients smile. Not only is she a talented and dedicated pediatric nurse, but she knows what they’re going through on a most personal level. At age 12, Autumn was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, characterized by the proliferation of immature white blood cells that make the body unable to fight infection.
Avery Ling’s heart-warming song "Let Us Live" features children and their families who received care at McLane Children's Hospital Scott & White.
"I wrote this song because I wanted to help other kids," said Ling. "I hope that when people hear the song and see the music video, they will see the patients that need care, and understand how important a new children’s hospital will be for our community."