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Meet our kids: Gabby

(Photo: Jim Bovin)

Gabby Burington performs in jazz and tap dancing competitions, something her mother didn’t imagine possible when Gabby was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a toddler. But this six-year-old doesn’t let her diagnosis define her or even slow her down.

Cindy Burington, Gabby’s mom, says she first noticed something was wrong when Gabby was about 15 months old. “She seemed to be favoring [one] leg,” Cindy says, adding that she thought Gabby may have twisted it. But when the problem persisted, Cindy brought Gabby to the doctor.

Gabby was referred to rheumatologist Richard Vehe, M.D., at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, who had Gabby try a few different treatments, before finding the one that worked best—steroid injections. “Within a day you couldn’t tell anything was wrong with her,” says Cindy. “There was no more crying in her bed because her legs hurt.”

In addition to seeing a rheumatologist, Gabby also visits the University’s new Minnesota Lions Children’s Eye Clinic, because she faces a higher risk of ocular inflammation due to her arthritis. The clinic is located across the street from the hospital and the rheumatology clinic.

Anchored by the new hospital, the growing children’s health campus is changing the way pediatric care is delivered at the University. Gabby’s mother can attest to that.

Cindy says that the different clinics always work to schedule her daughter’s multiple-clinic appointments on the same day. Now the design and close proximity of the clinics complements the University’s coordinated care—making life easier for families.

In addition, Cindy says that Gabby’s University doctors have provided crucial support. “With us at first, we were panicking, wanting to know what’s wrong with our daughter. The doctors reassured us. They were very reassuring and calming,” she says.

Now, Burington says that people watching Gabby dance don’t believe she has arthritis, because she’s such an active kid. “We thank our lucky stars that things are going great,” Cindy says, adding that she often tells people watching: “We have great doctors.”

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