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Tell Me a Story is a storytelling project that records people talking, in their own words, about how Cincinnati Children's has somehow touched their lives. Each month, we record stories of patients and employees whose experiences here have shaped who they are.
We welcome you to watch the series and share the links in your own social media circles. If you have a story to share, email us at TellMeAStory@cchmc.org.
A team of fairy godmothers grant Natasha Starkey, a 19-year-old patient suffering from epidermolysis bullosa, one very special wish.
Cincinnati Children's moms Melissa Scott and Cathy Reidy expanded the camp for kids with eosinophilic disorders.
Tammy Kouns knows she can't change the fact that her daughter, Abby Blevins, has tuberous sclerosis. What she can do, she says, is participate in research that may someday lead to a cure.
Leslie Green relocated to Cincinnati so that her daughter, Grace, could be treated at Cincinnati Children's.
Savannah Day, a cheerleader who needs brain surgery at Cincinnati Children's, started a toy drive that to date has collected more than 3,500 items for sick children.
Heart patient Tiernee Gonzalez, 20, a childhood cancer survivor, lives with an artificial heart while she waits for another heart transplant.
Olivine Tindika was born in Kenya with a life-threatening colorectal condition. Her parents searched for experts across the globe who could repair her birth defect. They found the Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children's.
Medical journeys with two of their children taught Tara and David Lovitz to be strong advocates, to fight for the best care and to appreciate life.
"When it happens that you have a child with special needs, you just become a stronger person," Brandy Roberts says. "You just go about your day pushing yourself more and more. Because if you give up, you're giving up on your child. And you can't do that."
Gabriel Soto was 6 when his seizures began. Doctors in Puerto Rico couldn't explain what was wrong. So the family moved to Cincinnati for specialized care and a surgery that changed his outcome.
An accident as a toddler resulted in an amputated foot for Michael Newland, but he went on to play sports and do everything any other kid did. This is his story.
When one twin was born with a heart murmur, the real medical journey began.
When they learned their son had a medical condition, Tina and Kevin Brooks found comfort in knowing that "he's in good hands."
Being in and out of the hospital has taught the Stoll family some important lessons. They have gained an appreciation for what they have instead of what they've missed.
Emmett Rauch almost died because he swallowed something ordinary: a button battery from a remote control. The battery did major damage to his airway and lungs. He's getting better largely because of surgeons at Cincinnati Children's.
Nearly two years ago, Tori Williams, had a bad landing from a jump nearly destroyed her knee. Surgery and rehab have built back her strength.
Callie Talbot was 8 years old when she first came to summer camp for patients with cancer and blood diseases. Here, she talks with camp nurse Linda Polman about what's so great about summer camp.
Learn how devastating news transformed a doctor's role and made a difference for families.
What a devastating leukodystrophy called Krabbé disease has taught one family about hospice, about hanging on, and about a kind of life and love they never expected.
Isaac Hinkel is a 2-year-old with a contagious smile and a rare birth defect. His parents found confidence in surgeons here to repair his abdomen and spine and help him thrive.
When doctors told Lydia Clark she needed a new heart, she adopted a philosophy that "life goes on." So why worry when you can enjoy what you have?
When their son, Jayvin, was diagnosed with leukemia, parents Lindsey Roark and Brandon Adams say the hardest part was not knowing what the next day would bring. But they learned to get through it one day at a time.
ER doctors fixing Ella Battson's leg found something worse: a tumor in her stomach. Seven years later, she is cancer-free and wants to be a nurse.
Bryce Staverman was born without the part of the brain that controls his gross and fine motor skills. Today, he communicates via an iPad.
When he was 9 years old and in fourth grade, Alex Jofriet dropped to a rail-thin 50 pounds. He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Today, at 17, Alex has learned to manage his condition. He says it has made him always look for the silver lining in life.
When Emily and Brian Chesnut had twins, one was diagnosed with a heart condition and Down syndrome, and the other had no complications at all. This is the story of how that diagnosis has changed their perspective on life, parenthood and what it means to be a family.
Titus Lail grew up as the big kid always being teased because of his weight. As a teen, he had weight loss surgery at Cincinnati Children's. At 22, he's half his former size, and he has become a role model for the kids he coaches in youth football.
Miranda Taylor weight 265 pounds when she decided she wanted to change. A year later, she is nearly half her size. But her excitement for life has multiplied.
Hallie Pollard, a pre-teen ballet dancer, knows what it's like to deal with aches that get in the way of life. She started coming to the Pain Clinic at Cincinnati Children's last year. Specialists diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or EDS, a condition that makes her joints hyper elastic and prone to pain. Today, Hallie says she has her life back.
Ever since she was 3, Ashley O'Hara struggled with weight issues. As she grew older, she was diagnosed with insulin resistance that turned into Type 2 diabetes. By the time she was 15, she was closing in on 300 pounds and desperate for answers. She then found the Surgical Weight Loss for Teens program at Cincinnati Children's.
Autism has had a impact on every member of the Crush family ever since Daniel was diagnosed as a toddler. Now 19, Daniel is still the hub of the family. This is the story of how he taught Susie and Steve Crush to be better parents and how the whole family learned to hang onto the laughter.
After being enrolled in a 16-week reading intervention program at Cincinnati Children's, second grader Mikayla Crutchfield improved her reading grade from an F to an A. "She didn't want to read out loud in the classroom. Now she's eager to read," says her grandmother, Rolanda.
Lydia Butler's heart problems were so severe that she had three open-heart surgeries by the time she was 4 years old. Today, doctors are not only keeping an eye on the 7-year-old's heart. They also are trying to figure out what is going on inside her brain.
Julie Bonn is a vibrant 24-year-old with a bright and promising future. Twelve years ago, that future hung in the balance. "I went from being perfectly healthy to status 1A on the liver transplant list," she says. Now a medical student with plans to become a gastroenterologist, Julie's dream is to find a better way.
Kyle Dawson's parents suspected a sledding accident was what was making him limp at the end of the winter in 2011. But doctors diagnosed him with something they had never heard of: Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. A phone call from Kyle's surgeon gave the Dawsons confidence in the care team.
Ethan Daniel's medical journey started with a puffy eye. He was a little boy who needed a heart transplant and the right specialists to bridge the way. This is the story of how doctors saved his life and bridged the way to transplant with something called a Berlin Heart.
Chase Tieber was born in 2009 with a brachial plexus injury. His parents were worried. Would he be healthy? Would he ever be able to throw a football? With the right surgery and therapy, the answer is yes on both counts.
Tyler Scheid and his mother, Cindy, both know what it's like to be a transplant patient. They've both had kidney transplants. And they say organ donation is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone.
Jenna Weber spent her high school years fighting headaches. At 18, she considers herself a success story because of the coping skills she learned at the Headache Center at Cincinnati Children's.
When Elene Lester took custody of her grandson, Jakob, she was unemployed and didn't have diapers or formula, much less a stocked pantry. When she brought Jakob to Cincinnati Children's for an appointment, physicians identified the family's needs and put them in touch with resources.
When Cole Jackson was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 13, he held onto it like a secret. Nearly a decade later, he is putting his efforts into a mentoring program so other patients don't have to suffer alone.
Adam Zust is a high school senior who survived a stroke. A year after collapsing on a treadmill, he wants his recovery to be an inspiration to people.
Aiden Putnam was just 7 when he collapsed playing laser tag. He had a stroke. And with the help of Cincinnati Children's, he relearned how to walk and talk and tell about how his family never lost hope.
Six-year-old Brody Muskopf was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that is destroying his muscles. His mom says the pain makes the good times that much better.
Sean Dougherty, 21, has cone dystrophy, a condition that deteriorates his vision. Researcher Tiffany Cook, PhD, says meeting him gives her tremendous insight into how she might be able to help find a cure.
Joanna Bendel communicates with something she calls her "talker." She has apraxia, a motor speech disorder that makes it hard for her to speak and be understood. But she wants people to know she still has a lot to say.
Joe Kastner has paralyzed vocal cords and speaks in a whisper. And his gift to his family is that he has made them better listeners.
Andrew and Julie Sieber's sons all have some form of severe allergy, but Ethan and Jacob are diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis. It is an allergic inflammatory condition that can make the esophagus swell.
Annie Coyle was in the sixth grade when she found out a golf ball-sized lump in her throat was cancerous. But with the help of her doctors and family, Annie beat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
A mother's instinct told Courtney Strotman something was wrong with her baby. Five months later, doctors diagnosed Addyson with infantile scoliosis. Orthopaedic surgeon Peter Sturm, MD, recently brought the Mehta casting technique to Cincinnati Children's. "It's less invasive, and it works."
Alison and Tim Delgado met in medical school. But just five months after they married, an accident tested their love and their determination — and ultimately affirmed their strength.
Ashtyn Carrier was 7 when she was diagnosed with a rare immune-system disorder called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, better known as HLH. Ashtyn and her dad talk about their experience leading up to the transplant.
Brian Schreck pioneered the pediatric music therapy program at Cincinnati Children's four years ago, primarily as an outlet for cancer and rehab patients. His fan base includes kids such as Christopher "Critter" Smith, who died in April 2011 at age 13 after battling his second relapse of leukemia.
Clifton Hon crossed paths with Amy Elam, both employees at Cincinnati Children's. Elam's daughter has been battling cancer for nearly a decade and Hon is in his fourth year of overcoming colon cancer. They forged a friendship and found a way to help each other through the ups and downs of cancer.
Deanna Carr jokes that she talked her son out of a coma. Devin Carr was almost 12 when a speeding pickup truck struck him, sending him into a coma for a month. Doctors did not expect him to live, but his mom had a feeling he would pull through.
Dillon Rosenlieb has cerebral palsy. His parents hope that a machine called a Lokomat can train his muscles and his mind to do the real thing on his own.
Erin Grasty began suffering seizures when she was 10. That's how the lively 16-year-old began what she calls her "e-coaster," or epilepsy roller coaster. Erin, a frequent visitor to Cincinnati Children's, has learned how to manage her condition and educate classmates about epilepsy.
Something special happens when Abby enters the building. The mood lightens. People stop and smile. Conversations begin. Abby Golden Doodle, a therapy dog, looks like she's smiling back at everyone who smiles at her.
When Immanuel Vaughn arrived early, on Christmas Day 2008, they knew he would be even more special. He struggled not only with being premature but also with liver cancer. His parents looked to experts at Cincinnati Children's for specialized treatment.
Cincinnati Children's employees Jan Borgman and Tina Ulanowski talk about providing care and support for families struggling with a child who is dying.
Listen to Jeff Geoppinger talk about how his family started the tradition of bringing a gingerbread house every year to nurses at Cincinnati Children's. Now the Geoppingers are getting another generation involved -- their son.
Jovante Woods suffered an asthma attack in August 2010 so severe that it killed him. His parents talk about what they didn't know that could be a lesson for other parents.
Jacob and Dylan have a rare Chiari brain malformation. Dr. Crone performed surgery on both boys and helped the Fitzpatricks identify and define the unknowns of the condition. The family has made it their mission to help other families going through the same journey.
Mallory Hopper was about to have spine surgery when she made a connection with Angela Strader, a nurse at Cincinnati Children's. Not only have they had the same surgery at the same age, but they even had the same surgeon, Dr. Alvin Crawford.
Maria is a long-term patient at Cincinnati Children's with chronic renal failure. She talks with her nurse Lena Riley about her experience and memories as a young patient at the hospital.
Max, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, needed his sister's bone marrow because his own did not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells. But Max is back on his grade school basketball team, healthy as ever.
Meggie was born with a very rare disorder called HSAN II (Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy, type 2) which calls for visits to Children's Hospital. She says, "Children's has been there for me for all these years, and best of all, I know they will be for many more."
As a young adult, Nakiea Spaulding became one the first participants in Project SEARCH, a program founded at Cincinnati Children's that teaches job skills to people who have disabilities. Now, at 37, Nakiea Spaulding still works with the program as a supervisor and lead lab courier.
Paige Alessandro had a vascular disorder that affected her spinal cord. Paige and her family never focused on her limitations. And although her life was short, they still celebrate the courageous way she lived.
Motivational clown Paul Miller, founder of Circus Mojo, has come up with a program called Mojo Medicine to give hospitalized kids a fun outlet. Miller has a grant to study the effects his performances have on patients. And if the sound of laughter is any indication, this kind of medicine is working pretty well.
Payton Stephens, a 9-year-old Cincinnati Children's patient who has a history of immune infections, says getting better "feels like you've got a prize." Despite her medical struggles, her mom says she always has a smile on her face and is determined to encourage sick kids to get better.
E. coli food poisoning quickly worsened into a disease that began destroying Preston Henson's kidneys. His dad, Gerald, made the decision to donate one of his kidneys, and the transplant was successful.
Regan Arnold was diagnosed with something called lymphangiosarcoma, a lymphatic blood-vessel cancer that is almost unheard of in kids. Despite it all, Regan kept an amazing attitude.
A tree branch hit Ryan Korengel in the head during a wind storm, and his traumatic brain injury was so serious his family feared for his life. Thanks to his doctors and therapists at Cincinnati Children's, Ryan pulled through.
Shane DiGiovanna has never gone a day in his life without bandages. He was born with a rare skin condition known as EB, or epidermolysis bullosa. The family relocated to Cincinnati so Shane can be treated by specialists such as dermatologist Anne Lucky, MD, an expert on the disorder.
Sydney Sanborn was a 9-pound baby whose shoulder was pinched in the birth canal, leaving her with brachial plexus palsy. After receiving surgery at the Brachial Plexus Center, she made a comment to doctors that led them to rethink about how the arm communicates with the brain after a nerve injury.
Taylor Brown has lived at the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati for three years, waiting for life-saving transplants. And she is on the road to recovery. She has found a home away from home at Cincinnati Children's, but is ready to go home through her own front door.
Asia Werner was born 9 weeks premature with a defective heart. Without a transplant, her family feared she wouldn't live past her first birthday. That was when her family learned of another family's loss 500 miles away. Asia got his heart. Today, she is an 11-year-old who considers her donor as close as a little brother.
Michelle Gardner was 17 when her son, Mikel Dijak, was born two months too early. He spent his first six weeks at Cincinnati Children's and was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. Dealing with the disease has made them all grow up and realize what being a family is all about.
Two decades after her own daughter's traumatic birth, Kathy Cassady returns to Cincinnati Children's regularly to give other parents hope. She is part of the ParentTOUCH program. Meeting Kathy came at the perfect time for Michael and Kerrie Magdich whose son also had a traumatic birth.
Olivia LaRosa was born with hearing impairment. From the moment she began making babbling sounds, her parents brought her to Cincinnati Children's for treatment. Early interventions with hearing aids and speech therapy worked.
When Katie Landgrebe broke her femur, she came to the Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center for physical therapy. The training helped lead the team to a winning season and helped the sports medicine program at become known not just for helping injured athletes — but also for preventing them altogether.
From his room on the oncology ward, Eli Wilkening has been looking out the window, ready to chase some storms. The outlook for Eli is looking good. He is scheduled to finish his cancer treatments in August and put his bout with leukemia behind him.
8-year-old Josh Mack, who dreams of becoming a talk show host one day, said he wished he could interview the head of the hospital. His doctor told him he could make that wish happen. That's how the Josh Mack Show with special guest Michael Fisher came about.
Watch a video as Samantha describes her experience with Ewing's sarcoma and how it has made her a stronger person.
Dustin Holston is 21 years old and can finally say he has learned how to feed himself properly. After receiving a gastric sleeve operation, Dustin is now 160 pounds lighter and credits the surgery for saving his life.
Kacy and Stacy Cluxton became dangerously thin and their worried parents brought them to Cincinnati Children's for help. After years of treatment for anorexia nervosa, the twins are now helping to promote the eating disorder program at Cincinnati Children's and the new inpatient psychiatric unit at the Lindner Center of HOPE in Mason.
For nearly three years, Karina Montes has imagined what she would look like when it came time for her quinceañera. Her mom brought her to Cincinnati Children's when she was 12 to help her transform from an overweight child to a healthy teenager. This is the story she shared with dietitian Barb Lattin.
Emma and Nick have Spinal Muscular Atrophy, an inherited disease that causes loss of motor function. Their family helps run a foundation to find a cure, and they come to The Perlman Center at Cincinnati Children's for therapy that helps them beat the odds.
At age 7, Jack Lennon needed a kidney transplant and his dad donated one. When he needed a new one in 1995, his mom was the donor. Jack received both kidney transplants at Cincinnati Children's. Today, he and his parents are healthy and grateful for the care they received.
Devon Buesking found out in high school that she had ulcerative colitis. The painful condition made her so sick she had to spend months at a time in the hospital at Cincinnati Children's. Now that she's better, she's paying it forward, running marathons to raise money to help other kids beat the same disease.
When a gastroenterologist from Cincinnati Children's was visiting Romania, he noticed a sickly, malnourished baby with Hirschsprung disease. With the help of doctors from Cincinnati Children's, Beni came here to the Colorectal Center for care that saved his life.
Dr. Marc Levitt was a medical student when he first met Dr. Alberto Peña and decided to study under him. They developed an international Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children's that treats patients from all over the world.
Mary Showman searched the internet for help for her daughter, Heather, who has suffered from tuberous sclerosis since she was a baby. Her mom found help at Cincinnati Children's. Heather's parents credit doctors with saving her life. Her doctors say it's rewarding just to see Heather smile.
Meron Azage and Katie Armstrong came to Cincinnati to be part of one of the few genetic counseling graduate programs in the country. They describe themselves as "medical translators" who have a background in psychology and science and will be able to help families understand genetic disorders.
After 12 trips to Haiti, Gail McMonigle connected with people she loves. Others from Cincinnati Children's, including Cornelia Gonsalves and Dr. David Franz, joined the last trip. They helped open a world of medical care to people who needed it and found satisfaction in helping a world beyond their own.
Regina Juergens was born with odds stacked against her. But after more than 100 hospital procedures, her complications are manageable. Regina is 4 and is beating the odds. She goes to preschool and makes friends everywhere she goes.
Callie Talbot was 8 when she first came to camp for cancer kids. Years later, she helps other campers keep a positive perspective.
Cameron Noe dreams of starting a ranch someday. But his biggest dream is to help find cures for diseases.
Drew Barry grew up avoiding daredevil. Having hemophilia shaped who he became and taught him to be responsible.
When will an oncologist take you joyriding on a golf cart? When you are a cancer patient at summer camp, like Cody Harrison.
Summer camp is one of Zion Coleman's favorite times of the year. It's when he gets to reconnect with friends who have sickle cell disease.
LeCarol Baston brings a little bit of summer camp back to the hospital with her son when she sings camp songs to get through blood draws.
Nurses fight to take care of Bailey Walker. The 8-year-old lymphoma patient says it's her positive attitude that makes her so popular.
People recognize Zeke Angel from the MTV reality show "True Life - I'm Allergic to Everything." His next role, he says, is to lead the fight for a cure.
Shannon and Andy Perdue worried before their daughter's birth that something might be wrong. They consider what happened next a miracle.
Doctors repaired Aubrey Clark's internal plumbing so she could get back to the business of just being a kid.
A couple of years after her dad committed suicide, Sam Potter wanted her life to be over, too. Treatment at Cincinnati Children's turned things around.
Amelia Murphy was born with spina bifida. It's made her the bravest person her family knows.
John Hutton, MD, a part-time pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's and owner of a local children's bookstore, is on a mission to get kids out from in front of the TV and keep little ones "screen-free" until age 3.
When Sarah (Steel) Anderson went into cardiac arrest at 12 years old, little did her family know it would uncover that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy runs in the family.
Kelly Briesacher learned while she was pregnant that her babies had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
Jacob Souders was a 12-year-old sixth-grader whose mother didn't know how to keep him under control.
Maria Seta came to Cincinnati Children's as a child because she had a type of kidney cancer. Today, she's a nurse here.
Some of Joey Evans' earliest memories are from growing up at Cincinnati Children's, where he was a cancer patient. Looking back, he sees how strong fighting cancer made him.
As a baby, Matthew Grosser had a brain tumor. He spent years going in and out of the hospital. It made him appreciate his caregivers and become determined to give back.
As a childhood cancer patient, Joseph Dunn lost his hair before he was in the seventh grade. He grew up to become a nurse who understands what it's like to be a patient.
Patients and families – like you – are the heart of the medical center. We would like to invite you to join the Cincinnati Children’s Champions Program.
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