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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Pediatrics Archive

June 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

From Patient to Physician

By Hoyt Finnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Dr. Brandon Phillips with a young patient. Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips' experience as a patient and a student at Mayo Clinic influences his own practice of medicine today

As a pediatric cardiology fellow at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips cared for a number of children from Mongolia who had congenital heart defects. Before they went into surgery, he would take a photo of their hands next to his on a white piece of paper. He would do the same again after surgery and before they returned home.

The difference was striking. "In the pictures before heart surgery, you could clearly see a blue cast to their skin. After surgery, the blue was gone," he says. "That really hit home for me."

It made an impact because Dr. Phillips is not only a physician who specializes in pediatric cardiology, he's also been a pediatric cardiology patient.

"Many of the kids who came to us from Mongolia had the same heart defect I did: tetralogy of Fallot," he says. "They were often close to their teenage years and had never undergone surgery. These children were usually quite blue. They couldn't walk very far. It was a glimpse of what would have happened to me without the medical attention I received.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine, Pediatric Cardiology, Pulmonary Valve Surgery, Tetralogy of Fallot


June 12th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Spina Bifida Won’t Slow Down Ty Wiberg

By Hoyt Finnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Ty Wiberg received his black belt in karate this past spring, despite mobility challenges caused by spina bifida. If everyone else can do it, why can’t I?

If Ty Wiberg, a 13-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has one guiding principle in life, that might be the one.

The Chippewa Falls Middle School student has undergone 16 surgeries, walks with braces and uses a wheelchair for distance. Ty was born with spina bifida, a spinal cord malformation. He also suffers from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain for which a tube-like shunt drains excess fluid. And he has limited sensation from the knees down, among other issues.

Not that any of that is slowing him down.

Ty mono-skis, distance races with his wheelchair, scuba dives, plays wheelchair basketball, swims and does karate. This past winter, he spent a week at a downhill ski camp in Colorado for kids with disabilities and injured veterans. This spring, he recently received his black belt in karate.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Jane Byrd, Dr Sherilyn Driscoll, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spina Bifida, Spina Bifida Clinic


April 15th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Roman’s Road to a Second Birthday

By Hoyt Finnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Anna Ryabova and Oleg Pecherskii, with their sons, Sergei and Roman.Faced with losing their newborn son, Anna and Oleg, searched far and wide for an answer. They found it and a new birthday for their son at Mayo Clinic.

After an ultrasound at 32 weeks into her pregnancy, Anna Ryabova, along with her husband, Oleg Pecherskii, faced a grim prognosis for their unborn son.

"The doctors in Russia told us his kidneys were very small, that they had not developed according to his gestational age, and that he would likely die within five days of his birth," Anna says.

But Roman miraculously survived, and on the 10th day, he was moved to one of Moscow children's hospital, where there was a nephrology department.

There, a nephrologist told to Anna and Oleg that Roman's condition would lead to a number of disabilities: he would have difficulty walking, as well as problems with his hearing, vision and mental development. Oleg asked doctors there about kidney transplant as a possibility for Roman. They answered that it was not a good idea and that children under five years had little chance of survival, in Russia especially. Instead, doctors suggested peritoneal dialysis.

"Nevertheless, we did not lose hope and were determined to do everything for our little son to get him out of disease. We staunchly believed in the best, and today we can say that our grit was rewarded by our very active and cheerful boy," Anna says.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr James Gloor, Dr Mikel Prieto, kidney transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


December 3rd, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Child’s play — at long last

By SMHNadmin SMHNadmin

Deshawn Corbin

After heart surgery, Deshawn Corbin can run, jump and swim like a kid ... for the first time

Deshawn Corbin is just 15 years old. But he’s already experienced more life than most people many times his age.

Deshawn was born with complex congenital heart disease that affected the way blood traveled through his body and kept him from getting enough oxygen. His teenage mother, who’d had no prenatal care, realized she would be unable to care for a child with such special needs and gave him up for adoption. On the day he was born, Deshawn became a ward of the state and had his first open heart surgery. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiac surgery, Congenital Heart Disease, Dr Ann Reed, Dr Ben Eidem, Dr Harold Burkhart, Fontan Procedure, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Patient Stories, pediatrics


June 13th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Mickala the miracle: A survivor and an inspiration

By Makala Johnson Makala Johnson

Mickala Morinville

“We knew if she made it to Mayo Clinic, she would make it,” says Judy Morinville of the September day Mayo MedAir airlifted her teenage daughter to Mayo Clinic. Mickala Morinville did make it, and her journey serves as a reminder of the miracles that can happen when you combine Mayo expertise with a higher power and a determined patient.

Mickala was in a dire situation. Her lungs were destroyed, likely by a virus, and Mickala struggled to get enough oxygen. Even getting her to Mayo was a challenge. An extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine was oxygenating Mickala’s blood. Because of the complexity of transporting these patients, most cannot move to another facility. Thankfully, Mayo MedAir has expertise that made her trip to Mayo possible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: anesthesiology, cardiovascular surgery, Dr. Gregory Schears, Dr. Rakesh Suri, Dr. Roxanne Pike, ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, heart, ICU, Mayo MedAir, Mickala Morinville


April 5th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Suiting up for a celebration

By Makala Johnson Makala Johnson

Curtis and three people with his orange shirts on

"My sweet boy," Deborah Morey said as she practically skipped across the room to join him in a group photograph. The boy is her son, 15-year-old Curtis Morey, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a type of brain tumor) on Jan. 27, 2012. The skipping at his Mayo appointment last week was one of several signs that March 28, 2013, was a happier milestone in Curtis' medical adventure.

When the Moreys arrived for the appointment, Deborah was wearing a blaze-orange T-shirt with Curtis' picture on the front and the word "Curtify" printed across the back. Perhaps more surprising, the clinical assistant who greeted them wore a matching T-shirt. Inside, Curtis' doctor, Amulya Nageswara Rao, M.B.B.S., of the Mayo Clinic Children's Center, was (you guessed it) also was wearing the same shirt. The emotion in the room was palpable, a mixture of relief and elation. And for good reason -- last Thursday marked the beginning of Curtis' last chemotherapy treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Brain Tumor, Chemotherapy, Curtis Morey, Dr. Amulya Nageswara Rao, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, medulloblastoma


December 29th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

An Arm-lifting Success Story

By Margaret Shepard Margaret Shepard

Harper BlommersLori Blommers used to cry at dance recitals. She knew that her youngest daughter, Harper, would never join the girls on stage because of injuries suffered at birth. Today, Harper is happily dancing away, thanks to an unusual surgery at Mayo Clinic that allowed her arm to move more freely.

When Harper was born on Aug. 26, 2004, she became stuck in the birth canal with only her head delivered. The pulling and the pushing after 27 hours of labor damaged Harper's collarbone and severed the brachial plexus nerves from her left arm.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves extending from the spinal cord that controls muscle movement and sensation in the shoulders, arms and hands. About 1 in 2,000 babies born in the United States suffer brachial plexus injuries at birth. "It's primarily a problem of big babies trying to get out of small moms,"says Mayo Clinic pediatric orthopedic surgeon William Shaughnessy, M.D. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Alex Shin M.D., Allen Bishop M.D., Brachial Plexus Clinic, brachial plexus nerves, Dr. Shaughnessy, Harper Blommers, Matthew Clark PhD


December 27th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Carter’s cranium remolding

By Margaret Shepard Margaret Shepard

Carter with his parents Kyle and Holly and his twin sister, BreahCarter Schlink has a twin sister, Breah. As babies, they were alike in many ways — both incredibly cute, similar button noses and fair complexion. When the twins were 2 months old, Carter's dad, Kyle, noticed something about his son that was different — his head shape.

It was flatter on the back and a little bit uneven.

Kyle mentioned his observation to the babies' doctor, who recommended the Schlinks try to keep Carter off of the back of his head for a few months to see if it would improve his head shape. During the day, Kyle and his wife, Holly, tried carrying Carter or toting him in a baby sling. During the night and naptime, they used a sleep positioner to ensure he slept on his side. These measures had no noticeable effect on Carter's head shape, so the couple consulted a specialist at Mayo Clinic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Carter Schlink, Matthew Clark PhD, Occupational therapy, pediatrics, Sherilyn Driscoll


December 21st, 2012 · 1 Comment

Ella Schultz: Thriving with Family and Medical Support

By Margaret Shepard Margaret Shepard

Ella Schultz holding catEven before 6-year-old Ella Schultz was born, she was already a miracle and had beaten many odds. Because Ella's mother, Patty, was 42 years-old when she was considering becoming a parent, and her father, Ernie, had survived cancer, neither were sure they would be able to conceive a child. Fortunately, they were able to become pregnant quickly. Patty's pregnancy was trouble-free, and when Ella was born, on Christmas Day in 2001, she appeared perfectly healthy.

"At two months of age, however, Ella began to develop tan 'cafe-au-lait' spots on her skin, which are pigmented birthmarks," says Patty. "Because these spots can sometimes signal bigger health issues, our local doctor referred us to Mayo Clinic for testing." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr. Babovic-Vuksanovic, Dr. Wetmore, Ella Schultz, Matthew Clark PhD, Neurofibromatosis, Scoliosis


December 20th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Jackson Hoeger: Family and Medical Staff Journey Together to Reach Positive Outcome

By Margaret Shepard Margaret Shepard

Jackson HoegerIt was November 2004 when Jennifer Hoeger, mother of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, kindergartener Jackson Hoeger, first began to notice a change in her son's health and behavior.

"Initially, we thought he had strep throat," says Jennifer. "At the same time, Jackson's teacher noticed a dramatic change in his handwriting, and his well-behaved and happy demeanor began to disappear."

As the symptoms persisted, Jennifer and husband Marty suspected a migraine headache or internal pressure on his eye, so brought him to a specialist. A CT scan, however, showed no visible tumor mass or abnormalities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr. Wetmore, Jackson Hoeger, Matthew Clark PhD, Neural Ectodermal tumor, pediatric brain tumors