Summer Scamper Patient Hero Alumni
2017 Patient Heroes
“Isabel is an incredible source of inspiration in my life,” Isabel’s brother, Robert explains. “She goes through a half-dozen therapy sessions a week and is in a special needs program at school, but she doesn’t let that faze her and still finds a way to be happy and enjoy the opportunities she has.”
At 8 months old, neurologists at Packard Children’s diagnosed Isabel with a rare form of epilepsy called Infantile Spasms (IS). The seizure disorder primarily affects babies within their first year of life and is diagnosed in about 2,500 children throughout the US each year.
Chrystian’s head was spinning. This was it!
Right in the middle of his birthday dinner, over “Happy Birthday” and his favorite Oreo cake, his fiancée, Cassandra, announced, “My water just broke.”
A month ahead of his due date, tiny baby Jayden arrived at their local hospital in King City, California. He was immediately surrounded by a concerned care team.
"When Jayden was born, we saw his chest heaving so fast,” recalls Chrystian. “I had never seen a chest expand and contract like that before. We knew something was wrong.”
Two-year-old Effy’s mom and dad were helping her put on her pajamas before bed when they noticed a lump on her side.
“We went to the doctor who did blood work,” recalls Effy’s mom, Jennifer. “We then got a call from Packard Children’s that they wanted to see us. We felt confusion, denial, and fear as we drove to Palo Alto, unprepared for what was about to happen. We sat in an exam room while the doctors told us that our 2-year-old had leukemia.”
From the moment she was born, Yali had to fight. Her mom, Lladira, remembers that her tiny baby was constantly picking up colds and other viruses. But even in the midst of her illnesses, Yali was a bright, happy baby.
“It was a roller coaster between being sick and well. But when she felt better, she was my little explorer,” Lladira remembers. “She was always getting into things, and we loved that about her.”
Gabe and Miriam named their baby girl Viviana, meaning “full of life.”
But at 5 weeks old Vivi was diagnosed with biliary atresia--her liver was failing and her life was in danger.
At 5 months old, doctors performed exploratory surgery and ultimately determined Vivi’s liver couldn’t be saved. With Gabe’s liver as a match, Vivi came through her partial-organ transplant surgery at Packard Children’s, only to reject her new liver.
Samantha & Nicholas, 12 & 10, San CarlosFood Allergy and Asthma Research
Siblings Samantha and Nicholas are two peas in a pod. They both love spending time with their grandmothers, joking around with one another, and taking on adventure sports like tube sledding and water tubing. And they both suffered from severe food allergies before being treated at our hospital.
Holden is one amazing kid. He loves to sing and play outside with his brothers. He can kick a soccer ball with amazing accuracy, and he proves every day that there is no limit for children with autism.
Meet David, awesome joke teller, soccer lover, and your official Summer Scamper Patient Hero for the Pulmonary and Cystic Fibrosis Center. You may recognize his photo—two years ago his sister, Doris, was your Patient Hero for the Pulmonary and Cystic Fibrosis Center. In 2014, Doris received her double-lung transplant, but their family’s celebration was cut short when David’s health declined quickly.
Around the time four-month-old Hana was celebrating her first Christmas, her cough began. At first it sounded like she was just clearing her throat. Over the next few weeks, her cough worsened to the point of gagging and even vomiting.
That’s when her parents, Kathleen and Paul, knew that this was not normal—they needed to see a specialist.
For nearly two decades, Megan Tarzon, RN, has cared for patients and families at Packard Children’s as a night shift nurse in 3 East and the Short Stay Unit. Even though she has cared for thousands of children over the years, she finds each new family she meets to be an inspiration.
“The lessons I have learned from my patients over the years are invaluable,” Megan says. “My patients brighten my day, they inspire me, they teach me, and they make me a better person. I can't imagine working anywhere else. Packard has been my home away from home for 19 years and I plan on continuing my nursing career here for many, many more years to come.”
Chris CastilloVirtual Race Hero
In late February 2017, Christopher Castillo suited up for Hawaii’s annual Great Aloha Run. He wore two bib numbers pinned to his shirt: one for himself, and one for Cyehnna Lasconia, the 14-year-old girl he’d donated one of his kidneys to less than a month earlier.
Read more inspiring stories about our Patient Hero Alumni.