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Children’s Health

Discover what’s possible. Browse these features to find out more about the impact of University of Minnesota research, education, and care—and how you can help.

(Photo: Scott Streble)

Megan Voss, D.N.P., walked into the room of a 12-year-old girl who was recovering from an umbilical cord blood transplant at the Pediatric Blood & Marrow Transplant Center at University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. The girl was in intense pain, but it was difficult to determine what was causing her discomfort. But after Voss performed Reiki, an integrative therapy now being offered to BMT patients at the hospital, the girl told her mother and Voss that not only was her pain better, she also felt much less anxious.

Ethan Hoover

These kids are proof that no gift--and no donor--is too small to make a difference.

Summer Ostlund (Photo: Scott Streble)

Summer Ostlund is a busy baby who always has a smile on her face. Like most 1-year-olds, she is on the move and making her family laugh. But the last year has been a test of Summer's strength. In January, Summer became the 800th person--and one of the youngest ever--to receive a heart transplant in the University of Minnesota's history.

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Being born with heart disease presents challenges for both babies and their families. And those challenges can last a lifetime. The U's Lazaros Kochilas, M.D., hopes to get a better picture of what these health issues are by analyzing 30 years of data from 47 centers across the country.

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Help the seriously ill children we serve at University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. Your gift will support expert care and discovery of groundbreaking treatments at one of the country's top children's hospitals.

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On any given day, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital treats as many as 50 babies, all of whom were born preterm or have other serious health issues. It can take weeks, or even months, for these babies to become healthy enough to go home—which means that parents often must return to work or go home to be with their other children, leaving their sick babies in the hospital.

Annette and Brian Call announced at WineFest No. 19 their intention to sponsor an Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. 'The kids are very proud of us,' says Brian Call of Brittany, 24; Griffin, 19; Isaac, 11; and Alex, 10.

Five years ago, Brian and Annette Call were looking for a fun night out when they attended their first Winefest—A Toast to Children’s Health, an event that benefits children’s health research, education, and care at the University of Minnesota. They did not expect the evening to be life changing.

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A simple blood test, in conjunction with a flu diagnosis, was a blessing in disguise for 5-year-old Ethan Fisher. Fortunately, the hematologist who followed up on Ethan’s low platelet count recognized the possibility of a Fanconi anemia (FA) diagnosis and ordered tests. Sure enough, despite the rarity of this hereditary anemia, Ethan had it—meaning he would need regular blood tests and, eventually, a bone marrow transplant.

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Back in 2010, Sarah Ewald was a high school senior and alpine skier. When she noticed a bump on her foot, she assumed it was a sports injury. But at the close of ski season, she visited a physician to determine why the bump wouldn’t go away. Her doctor diagnosed alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive sarcoma that only affects one in one million children and adolescents. Sarah began chemotherapy the week after diagnosis. That August, surgery removed her spleen and half of her pancreas, where the cancer had spread. Radiation and more chemo followed.

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Most University of Minnesota pediatric patient stories have a similar start: Parents discover a medical issue and find their way to University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. Not so with Lexi and Austin Jensen, each born with only one partially functioning kidney. First, they arrived at the U of M Children’s Hospital—one of the world’s leading kidney transplant centers—and then they found their parents.

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How has Charlie Knuth’s life changed since his second stem cell transplant at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital?

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The latest issue of Children's Health is now available in print and online.

A new protocol spearheaded by Sameer Gupta, M.D., has brought the rate of ventilator-associated pneumonia in University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit to zero. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Sameer Gupta, M.D., has a passion for tending to sick kids. A critical care physician at University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Gupta deals with tough situations every day, fighting diseases that have brought youngsters into the hospital--the scariest of places for worried parents. But what those parents don't see is how hard Gupta works behind the scenes to prevent already sick kids from getting sicker--from what medical professionals call "hospital-acquired conditions."

Julia Berg’s parents hope that her photo will be a palpable reminder of the importance of avoiding medical mistakes.

When 15-year-old Julia Berg died of massive internal bleeding at another hospital in 2005, the tragedy left her parents, Dan Berg and Welcome Jerde, and her sister, Hannah, reeling. But more bad news was yet to come: Julia's death could have been prevented.

Ten-year-old Aulana Hulbert is feeling much more comfortable after two spinal surgeries to lengthen her spine and make more room for her abdominal organs. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

If you think somebody who lacks backbone lacks gumption, you haven't met Aulana Hulbert. The 10-year-old Nebraskan girl doesn't have the use of her legs but learned how to get around by walking on her hands. And all because she lacks a backbone--at least a complete one.

Minnesota Cystic Fibrosis Center pediatric program director Terri Laguna, M.D., finds joy in seeing her patients thrive.

Though she's competitive, Terri Laguna, M.D., didn't mind when one of her 12-year-old patients "smoked" her in a 5K race last year. That's because, despite having cystic fibrosis (CF), Tanner--who also plays hockey--is obviously thriving. And nothing could make Laguna happier.

WineFest No. 19 art, The New Frontier, by celebrity portrait artist Anthony R. Whelihan

University of Minnesota pediatric physicians and researchers are illuminating discovery, fostering hope and healing for children and their families when they need it most. Join us to celebrate U of M advances in children's health at WineFest No. 19--A Toast to Children's Health on May 9 and 10 at the Depot in Minneapolis.

Through research, Michael Verneris, M.D., and his University colleagues have proven themselves pioneers in the therapeutic use of the stem cells found in even small amounts of umbilical cord blood. “That’s going to save someone’s life,” he says of

Previously discarded as medical waste, blood gathered from the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth holds potential for treating deadly and debilitating diseases. Now, as more centers are beginning to collect and bank this valuable blood, University of Minnesota researchers and clinicians are at the forefront of developing its promise.

(Photo: Brady Willette)

The University of Minnesota Foundation announced in March that donor Caroline Amplatz had fulfilled her pledged gifts for pediatric care, education, and research early and was relinquishing naming rights to the University's children's hospital, creating an opportunity for another donor.

Photo by Nate Gotlieb, Minnesota Daily

The Unlimited Dance Marathon on February 22 and 23, combined with donations that students and student athletes collected at 14 sporting events throughout the course of the academic year, raised more than $32,000 for University of Minnesota Children's Hospital.

(Image courtesy of Flagship Recreation)

As partnerships go, this one's a slam dunk. It began with a $100,000 gift last summer from Sport Ngin to build the Sport Ngin Sport Court alongside the Sullivan Playground on the front lawn of University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. Today, Sport Ngin employees are so fired up about the Sport Court and what it might mean for young patients that they're making a full-court press to host a monthly basketball tournament there.

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Camie and Jack Eugster believe that children deserve a comfortable environment when they’re sick that can cheer them up. That’s why, through their family foundation, the Eugsters sponsored an Adopt A Room on the hospital’s blood and marrow transplant unit—to brighten the days of children who typically face long hospital stays.

The Seymour family

When Marc and Mandy Seymour brought their infant daughter, Quinn, across the country to University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital to be part of a groundbreaking clinical trial aimed at curing her devastating skin disease, the hospital did not yet have an on-site chapel. Today the Seymours are honoring Quinn’s memory—and providing a place of peace and hope for others—by raising $500,000 to build a chapel at Amplatz.

Sarah Ramel, M.D., tracks NICU graduates' growth to find out which factors led to optimal long tem health. (Photo courtesy of Michael Schmidt)

The right timing can make all the difference. And where children's brain development is concerned, University of Minnesota researchers are finding that particularly important. "The earlier you intervene, the bigger impact you can have," says Michael Georgieff, M.D., director of the University's Center for Neurobehavioral Development and a neonatologist at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. "You're laying the foundation for a healthy adult mental life."

Iris Borowsky, M.D., Ph.D. (Photo: Scott Streble)

Though the problem of youth violence reigns large in the United States, Iris Borowsky, M.D., Ph.D., is not one to dwell on the negative. Instead, she has spent the past 19 years at the University of Minnesota researching ways to prevent the problem.

Priya Verghese, M.D.

In April 2013, University of Minnesota physicians performed their 8,000th kidney transplant—almost exactly 50 years after their first.

Lizzie Bell (Photo: Jim Bovin)

While Lizzie Bell, 19, recovered from a blood and marrow transplant this summer, she turned her Adopt A Room in University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital into her personal photo editing suite.

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The young cancer patients at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital who lose their hair after chemotherapy now have a stylish way to keep their heads warm. Thanks to the organization Love Your Melon, more than 800 cozy winter hats and baseball caps have been given to children at Amplatz.

Jimbo and Candi Fisher and their boys, Trey and Ethan, found hope in the Fanconi anemia experts at the University of Minnesota. Ethan (on the left) was diagnosed with the rare blood disease earlier this year. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

ESPN highlighted U of M research support for FA in a story about the Kidz1stFund™, founded by FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, whose son, Ethan, has FA.

Zach Sobiech (Photo: J Dunn Photography)

Through music, Zach Sobiech said goodbye to his loved ones. And in the process, the Stillwater teenager's YouTube music video for his song "Clouds" touched people around the world. Though Sobiech died of osteosarcoma, an aggressive type of bone cancer, on May 20 at age 18, his legacy extends far past millions of YouTube views. The Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, created by Zach and his family through Children's Cancer Research Fund, exclusively benefits research at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota that is focused on understanding the causes of osteosarcoma and developing new therapies for it.

As a special gift for Burke Derr, a lifelong teddy bear collector, his friends asked a teddy bear company to create a bear for Burke. The original Burke P. Bear arrived at the hospital five days before Burke died. Today Burke P. Bear is the world-travelin

He has toured 47 states and 23 countries to increase awareness of cystic fibrosis, and he gets hugs everywhere he goes. This furry advocate is Burke P. Bear, a cuddly teddy bear named in honor of Burke P. Derr, who died two days before his 19th birthday in 1997 from complications of CF. Today Burke's memory lives on through the work of his father, Bob Derr, for Pennsylvania Cystic Fibrosis, Inc., and the researchers it supports, including Antoinette Moran, M.D., at the University of Minnesota.

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Not many 2-year-olds spend the majority of their days in the hospital, running down the halls while their parents chase after them with IV drip bags.

For the young Taylor Hoff, this was a reality. He could rest his chin on the baseball-sized tumor on his collarbone caused by a rare condition called hemangioendothelioma.

But thanks to the quick thinking of his doctors, today Hoff is a healthy college student pursuing a career in medicine and volunteering in a research lab at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Champions for Children Celebrity Golf Classic

Join us for one of these upcoming events.

Keric Boyd

Physicians know delivering bad news is part of the job. But a diagnosis of epidermolysis bullosa (EB) can be “terrifying,” says University of Minnesota pediatric oncologist Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D. EB causes the skin to slough off at the slightest touch. Wounds don’t heal, fingers fuse together, and eventually patients are unable to eat and are wheelchair bound.

Sabrina Ness

When 12-year-old Sabrina Ness takes the stage, her soulful, bluesy voice startles listeners. Think Norah Jones or Adele. Her songwriting is just as mature. “All of my songs are about making a difference in the world,” says Ness.

Addison Brynteson (Submitted photo)

It’s Tuesday and 4-year-old Addison Brynteson has just finished her weekly medical checkup. Next stop: “Anywhere with French fries and chicken strips,” jokes her dad, Joe. Last fall, this lively preschooler was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a rare condition that prevents normal blood-cell production.

Grace O'Masta and her mother, Jenny. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Grace O’Masta has come a long way from the devastating day in spring 2008 when her parents were told their month-old daughter likely wouldn’t survive the night. Born with an enlarged and weakened heart that wasn’t capable of pumping enough blood on its own, the Eagan, Minn., girl was living at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, hooked up to the Berlin Heart—a then-experimental ventricular assist device— and on the waiting list for a transplant.

(Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins)

Don’t miss Neurofibromatosis (NF) Awareness Night at Target Field on May 18, 6:10 p.m., where the Minnesota Twins will take on the Boston Red Sox.

A sand table, swimming pool, zip line, and cozy swing help children relax when they're agitated.

They knew some of their ideas would raise eyebrows. But the clinicians who got together two years ago to plan renovations for the two-floor Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Intensive Treatment Center at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital felt that a big change just might make a big difference for kids.

Grace O'Masta and her mother, Jenny. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Grace O'Masta has come a long way from the devastating day in spring 2008 when her parents were told their month-old daughter likely wouldn't survive the night.

John and Nancy Lindahl (Photo: Dan Marshall)

John and Nancy Lindahl are two of the University of Minnesota’s biggest cheerleaders. Together the two alumni successfully led a $90 million fundraising campaign for TCF Bank Stadium. Nancy also is a member of the University of Minnesota Foundation Board of Trustees, while John serves on its heart fundraising advisory committee. And through their many connections to the University over the years, they’ve only grown to appreciate it more.

Shane McAllister, M.D., Ph.D., received the University Pediatrics Scholars AWard in 2012. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

One of the most important steps in pushing medical science ahead is funding talented, young researchers who bring new ideas and approaches to solving health problems. That's the thinking behind the University Pediatrics Scholars Award, which has been given annually since 1990 to at least one promising pediatrician-researcher who's getting a fledgling lab up and running.

WineFest No. 18 featured artwork. <em>'Boco'</em>, by Luis Burgos.

We're celebrating University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital's history of achieving medical firsts and breaking records tied to improving outcomes for children by attempting to break another record at WineFest No. 18.

(Photo: Scott Streble)

Karen Kaler, wife of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, Ph.D., and Rebecca Kill, wife of head Gopher football coach Jerry Kill, rock babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital every week.

(Photo: David Sherman)

Adopt A Rooms are customizable, private rooms designed specially for kids and their families. Bedside consoles give children command of almost everything in their spacious rooms, providing the kids a sense of control during a time when they yearn for it.

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Thanks to recent legislation, you can again benefit from a popular tax-advantaged giving option.

Zach Sobiech (Photo: J Dunn Photography)

Zach Sobiech is practically a rock star. With just months to live, the 17-year-old teen from Stillwater, Minn., started writing songs to say goodbye to his family and friends. He never expected that his songs would make him world-famous. On Saturday, February 16, Zach and his friends will perform at a sold-out benefit concert at the iconic Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Ticket sales will benefit the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund through Children's Cancer Research Fund in support of leading-edge research at the University of Minnesota.

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Pediatric blood and marrow transplant physician Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., has been named director of the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute.

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The Grand Lodge of Minnesota and Minnesota Masonic Charities have jointly sponsored an Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, continuing the Masons’ decades-long commitment to improving children's health.

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John A. Sullivan, center for the Minnesota Vikings, is donating $150,000 to make a new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital playground possible. To support the project, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has donated $25,000 through his Lead the Way Foundation, and the Minnesota Vikings have contributed the remaining $25,000 necessary for the $200,000 project. Sullivan announced his support at a dedication ceremony on October 30.


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