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Children’s Health—Care

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.

Though she weighed only 1 pound 6 ounces at birth, Emma Michael looked healthy to NICU Follow-Up Clinic doctors at 3 months adjusted age. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Rebecca and James Michael were expecting their second child in early November. But baby Emma could only wait until July 11, when she was born at one day over 23 weeks' gestation, weighing a mere 1 pound 6 ounces.

While The Birthplace care team stayed with Becca at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, neonatologists immediately brought Emma to the adjacent University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and James followed.

Christopher and Cara Kail (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Cara and Michael Kail left home for Fairview Southdale Hospital for the birth of their fourth child late on the evening of September 24, 2010, Michael had planned to be home the next day to take their other kids to the Children's Theatre.

But a rare and very dangerous complication caused Cara to lose consciousness during labor early the next morning, which resulted in an emergency C-section birth, right in the labor room. At one point, neither Cara nor new baby Christopher was breathing or had a pulse.

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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 6-year-old doesn't let her diagnosis slow her down.

Gabby regularly sees University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital specialists in rheumatology and ophthalmology, whose services are now centrally located on the University's Riverside campus. Anchored by the new hospital facility, the growing children's health campus is changing pediatric care at the University.

(From left to right) University physicians John Wagner, M.D., and Margaret MacMillan, M.D.; Minnesota Vikings quarterback and former FSU player, Christian Ponder; Ethan, Trey, Candi, and Jimbo Fisher; Rebecca Kill; and Karen Kaler and University President

When the Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned earlier this year that their youngest son, 6-year-old Ethan, has a rare blood disease called Fanconi anemia, they dealt with the devastating news in private. Then they decided to use their visibility in the media to raise awareness of the disease as well as money for research at the University of Minnesota.

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When Florida State University football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned earlier this year that their son Ethan has a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, they felt compelled to take action that would help not only Ethan but other children, too.

So they established the Kidz 1st Fund to raise money for Fanconi anemia research at the University of Minnesota. The University is a leader in discovering better ways to treat the disorder and in the pursuit of a cure.

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When University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital opened the doors of its emergency department for the first time on April 30, the breakthrough pediatric medicine offered there became easier to find. The brand-new hospital, located on the University's Riverside campus, now has a welcoming and easy-to-find emergency department dedicated solely to children.

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Rich Kaplan, M.D., M.S.W., was deliberate about the words he chose when he named the University of Minnesota's Center for Safe and Healthy Children five years ago. "The goal of the center is to keep children safe and to support families so they can raise healthy kids," says Kaplan, who also founded the center and is one of only two physicians in Minnesota (and one of fewer than 200 in the United States) board-certified in child abuse pediatrics.

Kyle Schwendemann

Something wasn’t right with Kyle Schwendemann. He came back from an ice fishing trip with pale skin and purple lips, recalls his mother, Melissa. She knew his cystic fibrosis was behind it.

University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital

University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital now ranks among the nation’s top 50 children’s hospitals in eight medical specialties, according to U.S. News & World Report—an all-time high for our hospital. This also marks the fourth consecutive year that the hospital’s cancer program and the third consecutive year that its kidney care program have been ranked among the country’s best.

In gratitude to his doctors, Matthew donated part of his bar mitzvah money to research at the University of Minnesota. [Photo: Alison Langer]

Of all the things a teenage boy might choose to do with his bar mitzvah money, giving a portion to medical research might seem low on the list. After all, there are Xboxes and iPods and skateboards to buy. But when Matthew, 13, gave his money to a research program led by John Wagner, M.D., at the University of Minnesota, he was sharing a heartfelt thanks.

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Nine-year-old Zachary "Zac" Bartz isn't your typical second-grader -- to many, he's an inspiration. Zachas a disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), which has caused tumors to grow in his brain and for which there is no known cure. Zachas endured multiple surgeries, countless rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 radiation treatments -- all conducted at clinics associated with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Elliott with dog, Brandy. (Photo: Emily Pillsbury)

Susan Doherty calls her 13-year-old son’s experience with Hepatoblastoma—a rare pediatric liver cancer—a “life-altering experience.” Following treatment at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, the cancer is gone, Elliott has gained 20 pounds, he’s on the track team, and he’s made the honor roll at school.

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Dr. Joseph Neglia's job just got easier. As the Department of Pediatrics head works to recruit topflight experts in children's health, he can point to the extraordinary new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital as a very visible symbol of the University's dedication to children. "Having the Amplatz Children's Hospital will go a long way to attracting the most talented faculty members and residents," says Neglia, who also is the hospital's physician-in-chief.

The Freeman family, Robyn, Margo, Don, and Myles (Photo: Ellen Johnson, Photogen, Inc.)

Ten-month-old Margo Freeman couldn't have looked any healthier. Yet, when Don and Robyn Freeman learned that their adoptive baby girl was waiting for them in Ethiopia, they sought an expert evaluation of her medical records and advice on what to expect when adopting a baby from a foreign country.

More space for kids who have cancer allows University pediatric oncologists like Brenda Weigel, M.D., to expand the number and types of therapies they can offer. (Photo: Brady Willette)

With crucial philanthropic support from individuals and organizations such as Children's Cancer Research Fund, research discoveries made at the University of Minnesota have helped increase survival rates for childhood cancer from 10 percent in 1959 to nearly 80 percent today. But Department of Pediatrics faculty and leaders realized that if the University wanted to continue as a leader in the fight against pediatric cancers, it needed better facilities.

As codirectors of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, Ronald Furnival, M.D., and Mark Roback, M.D., share a big job. They are building an emergency department that promises to become one of the best in the country. Their role is especially important because a significant number of patients will come to the new children's hospital via its pediatric-only emergency department.

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Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: a state-of-the-art children's hospital in a vibrant package.

It’s hard to miss the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital along Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis. With its special anodized steel exterior, the building changes color throughout the day depending on how the light hits it. This material has been used on only one other building nationwide.

Beyond its physical brilliance, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital will become a beacon of hope for children and their families when it opens its doors to patients on April 30.

Chandy John, M.D., M.S., shows a medical officer in Uganda how to look for changes in the retina caused by malaria.

There are places in the world where nearly seven in 100 newborns do not live more than a month, where a vast majority of births take place without skilled birth attendants, and where one in five children never lives to see his or her fifth birthday. These stark realities fuel the drive of physician-scientists in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

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Ten-month-old Margo Freeman couldn't have looked any healthier. Yet, when Don and Robyn Freeman learned that their adoptive baby girl was waiting for them in Ethiopia, they sought an expert evaluation of her medical records and advice on what to expect when adopting a baby from a foreign country.

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Any child diagnosed with cancer faces the battle of her life. But what if her family lives in an unstable country and cannot see a doctor? That's what happened to Rosie Jones.

Ben, Vivian, and Bob Calmenson in 2008 (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Bob Calmenson lived decades longer than doctors predicted. But when he died at 60 in 2009, his life seemed far too short to family and friends. "He left us too soon," say his sisters, Margie Howell and Janet Lesgold. Yet the spirit of Bob, and his father, Ben, who died at age 90 just 13 days before Bob died, will live forever in Ben & Bob’s Room, one of the patient rooms designed to feel more like home under the Adopt A Room program at the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

Jaclyn Doffin holding Sophia and Tony Doffin holding Grace and Tyler. (Submitted photo)

When Jaclyn and Tony Doffin found out that they were having triplets, they got busy planning for their new life with three infants. One of the triplets was diagnosed with a heart condition prior to birth, but the family never anticipated the devastating complications that their baby would have as a result. When the triplets, Tyler, Sophia, and Grace, were born on September 8, 2008, doctors quickly determined that Grace had a more severe case of hypoplastic right heart syndrome than originally thought. “She was born with three [heart] chambers,” explains Tony. “She was missing the one that pumped [blood] to the lungs.”

Research by Jakum Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., and John Wagner, M.D., moved quickly from mouse studies to showing success in paitents. (Photo: Emily Jensen)

For the first time ever, physician-scientists at the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that a lethal skin disease can be successfully treated with stem cell therapy.

Medical School researchers John E. Wagner, M.D., and Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D. — in collaboration with researchers in Oregon, the United Kingdom, and Japan — used stem cells from bone marrow to repair the skin of patients with a fatal skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB).

University researcher Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., with Keric Boyd, who underwent an experimental bone marrow transplant to treat his EB. Now Keric can ride his bike -- something he was never allowed to do before. (Photo: Emily Jensen)

Physician-scientists at the University of Minnesota have for the first time demonstrated that a lethal skin disease can be successfully treated with stem cell therapy. Medical School researchers John E. Wagner, M.D., and Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D.—in collaboration with researchers in Oregon, the United Kingdom, and Japan—used stem cells from bone marrow to repair the skin of patients with a fatal disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

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The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview and University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital are again among an elite group of hospitals named the nation’s best by *U.S. News & World Report*. The annual rankings are based in part on reputation, death rate, and care-related factors such as nursing and patient services.

John E. Wagner, M.D., performed Molly Nash’s controversial transplant. (Photo: Scott Streble)

In most ways, 16-year-old Molly Nash is a typical teenager. She argues with her parents. She bickers with her younger brother and sister (but admits to loving them, too). And she is a budding actress, recently portraying Chip the teacup in Beauty and the Beast. The science that came together 10 years ago to give Molly these opportunities was revolutionary, controversial, and for her family, intensely personal.

Jacqueline Dunlap (Photo: Emily Pillsbury)

If you’re like most people, you’ve never heard of neurofibromatosis (NF). Neither had JoAnne Pastel and Bill Dunlap, of Wayzata, until their 5-month-old daughter, Jacqueline, was diagnosed with the tumor-causing disorder, for which there is no known cure. Although NF is more common than type 1 diabetes, patients can find treatment at only four U.S. clinics. Thankfully for Jacqueline and her family, two national NF leaders—pediatric hematologist-oncologist Chris Moertel, M.D., and cancer geneticist David Largaespada, Ph.D.—work at the University of Minnesota.

Thomas George, M.D.

When Misty and Matt Motzko’s son, Logan, was born unexpectedly at 24 weeks, weighing only a pound and a half, the whole family needed expert care. Nothing could have prepared the Motzkos for their baby’s harrowing entry into the world—but under the circumstances, Misty says, they couldn't have landed in a better place. That place was University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Thumbnail image for “If you’re going to try to change the war we treat heart disease, it’s critical to be in an environment where you can try new, crazy ideas.” - Doris Taylor, Ph.D.

Surgery to treat congenital heart disease in children has dramatically improved over the past 20 years. Still, some challenges remain. While most congenital heart disease patients live beyond the surgery,many experience shortterm challenges such as inflammation and longlasting effects such as neurological problems.

Solomon Harris

Solomon Harris entered the world weeks early by emergency C-section. When he was strong enough to go home, Solomon suddenly refused to eat and developed a high-pitched cry, prompting a trip to the emergency room. There Solomon’s parents, Rebecca Skelton and Shepard Harris, learned their son had group B streptococcus, a life-threatening bacteria that is the leading cause of blood infection and meningitis, infection of the fluid and lining around the brain, in newborns.


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