Author Archives: ChildrensMN

Collaborative caring in eating disorders

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

(iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Pam Macdonald and Janet Treasure

Eating disorders have a profound impact on individuals, as well as the people who care for them.

Eating disorder symptoms have immense social and emotional ramifications for families and loved ones. Symptoms vary and can be frightening, intrusive, antisocial, anxiety provoking and frustrating. The behaviors involved in limiting calorie intake, increasing calorie expenditure, or uncontrolled calorie intake, take many forms. The physical consequences are alarming and distressing. All semblance of normality disappears, social life evaporates, future plans are put on hold and interactions around food increasingly dominate family relationships. It can feel akin to living within a maelstrom.

Promoting beliefs that sustain hope and empower families may be an important step in reducing caregivers’ feelings of helplessness and interrupt unhelpful interactions.

Subscribe to MightyResearchers at King’s College London are equipping caregivers with tools aimed at reducing distress and boosting care-giving efficacy to support their loved ones on the road to recovery. Headed by world eating disorder specialist Dr. Janet Treasure, who will be speaking at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota on Monday, Aug. 4, the caregiver skills training is intended as an adjunct to the individual’s treatment program. The skills training program is the result of several empirical research studies and has been designed to provide caregivers with information on treatment goals, prognosis and maintenance factors to which they are entitled, without breaching patient confidentiality.

Utilizing a “dolphin-like” approach of warmth, gentle nudging and negotiation caregivers are taught how to listen to and analyze their emotional responses while reflecting upon what they might need to change in their own situation. Dr. Treasure’s interventions incorporate basic motivational interviewing techniques. The goal is for caregivers and professionals to work in partnership to promote the following:

  • Strengthen the caregivers’ belief in their own abilities to make change possible
  • Give caregivers the opportunity to express concerns about the cause and effects of the illness
  • Discuss the basic principles of behavior change
  • Teach good communication skills (the ability to express and process emotions)
  • Promote respect, satisfaction and a unified approach within the family (and extended family) unit
  • Learn the skills of problem solving
  • Maximize caregiver skills (warmth with limits and boundaries)
  • Highlight those factors which may be aggravating the problem
  • And, above all, encourage caregivers to practice self-care.

Are you a dolphin parent?

The skills training intervention uses a series of lighthearted animal analogies to encourage the caregiver to reflect upon his or her default caring style; for example, a kangaroo does everything to protect, keeps their loved one firmly in the pouch in an effort to avoid any upset or further stress, while the rhinoceros, fueled by stress, exhaustion and frustration, or simply one’s own temperament, attempts to persuade and convince by argument and confrontation. Emotional responses are captured with the help of the ostrich, who avoids talking and thinking about the problem, frequently due to the difficulty in coping with the distress of challenging eating disorder behaviors. The jellyfish becomes engulfed in intense emotional responses. These may include high levels of self-blame or perfectionist tendencies with regards to parenting skills or expectations of what it is to be a “good parent.” As illustrated above, the goal of the intervention is to promote a dolphin-like behavioral approach to caring and a St. Bernard emotional approach, responding consistently – reliable and dependable in all circumstances.

Dolphin parenting presentation

Children’s Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders is sponsoring a short presentation by Dr. Treasure from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, at the John Nasseff Conference Center, 333 Smith Ave. N., in St. Paul. No registration or fee is required to attend.

The Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders

The Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders delivers the leading evidence-based treatments to patients of all ages and with all types of eating disorders. After a comprehensive assessment, the team develops an individualized approach for each patient. We offer customized inpatient and outpatient treatment for children, adolescents and adults. We use the latest evidence-based treatments, including: family-based therapy (FBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Enhanced (CBT-E).

Everyone on the team — including psychiatrists, psychologists, hospitalists, dietitians and social workers — has special training in motivational strategies and the core treatments for helping children, adolescents and adults with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. We offer inpatient treatments for young patients through college age at Children’s – Minneapolis, and for adults at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

Janet Treasure, Ulrike Schmidt and Pam Macdonald co-edited “The Clinician’s Guide to Collaborative Caring in Eating Disorders.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Lisa Zutz

Lisa Zutz is a volunteer at Children's.

Lisa Zutz is a volunteer at Children’s.

Lisa Zutz is an aspiring pediatric RN who currently works as a phlebotomist. She has volunteered on the inpatient units, in the sibling play area and, most recently, piloted a volunteer role in the lab, which has proved highly successful. What keeps Lisa coming back week after week? The positivity and bravery of our patients.

1. Why she rocks?

I got into volunteering because of its benefits; I believe that unpaid volunteers are kind of the “glue” that holds a community or even a hospital together. Volunteering makes me happy, and knowing that I am able to put a smile on a child’s face really makes my day. Volunteering at Children’s Hospital has brought so much fun and fulfillment to my life. I want to work as a nurse with children, and I feel that the skills I gain from volunteering will make me that much better of a nurse and a person.

2. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

Outside of volunteering, I keep pretty busy. I am very active and love to work out; whether it’s yoga, spin, or even a nice long run. Also, I spend a lot of time with my family.

3. Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

I do not have any kids, but once a week I babysit my two nieces, Chloe and Kinzi, ages 2 and 5. We have a blast together! I spend more time with my nieces than my actual friends. We enjoy going to the Maple Grove indoor maze, making cupcakes, playing outside and making projects. We definitely keep busy all day long. I also have a kitty. His name is Luigi, and I love him with all my heart. He is a beautiful mix: half-Siamese, half-Himalayan and loves to play and run around my condo.

Subscribe to Mighty4. If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

I am not a lover of chocolate, but for everyone who is, I would make an ice cream bar loaded with caramel, pecans, rich chocolate and, of course, ice cream. I would call it “Caramel Delight,” and it would melt in your mouth!

5. Share a favorite volunteer experience or story.

I am not sure if I can choose a favorite; I believe every experience I have had at Children’s has made me into a better person. Each child is so different and unique that every experience has its own one-of-a-kind story. It is amazing to see how brave these kids truly are; they battle so hard and are so positive despite being sick. Life is so fragile, and when you see such young children sick, you realize how life should not be taken for granted. Volunteering is so rewarding!

Children’s represented at Family Advocacy Day in Washington

By Kelly Wolfe

In late June, Children’s participated in the Children’s Hospitals Association Family Advocacy Day.

The Christiansen family (Eleanor, Tyler, Greta and Wes) joined families from across the country to advocate for funding and programming for children’s hospitals and children with special health care needs. The Christiansen’s used their experience at Children’s to educate and inform our U.S. senators and representatives on Capitol Hill. We were lucky to have them represent us!

Kelly Wolfe is senior policy and advocacy specialist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Family Advocacy Day 2014 in Washington, D.C. from Children’s of Minnesota on Vimeo.

Photo diary of the trip:

The Christiansens get inspired in front of the U.S. Capitol for meetings on the Hill. The weather was warm and breezy; a perfect day for a lot of walking.

The Christiansens get inspired in front of the U.S. Capitol for meetings on the Hill. The weather was warm and breezy; a perfect day for a lot of walking.

Washington, D.C., is full of wonderful sightseeing opportunities. The Christiansen family takes advantage of some free time by visiting all of the monuments.

Washington, D.C., is full of wonderful sightseeing opportunities. The Christiansen family takes advantage of some free time by visiting all of the monuments.

The Christiansens visit "Honest Abe." The passion they have for advocating for child health almost equals the size of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Christiansens visit “Honest Abe.” The passion they have for advocating for child health almost equals the size of the Lincoln Memorial.

Future presidents? We hope so! Greta and Wes take their turns at the president’s desk at the White House Gift Shop.

Future presidents? We hope so! Greta and Wes take their turns at the president’s desk at the White House Gift Shop.

Greta and Wes certainly are out of this world! They had a great time checking out the astronauts at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Greta and Wes certainly are out of this world! They had a great time checking out the astronauts at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Batman flew by to say a special hello to Greta and Wes at the Family Advocacy Day Celebration dinner. Complete with a band, dancing, caricatures, face-painting, photo booths and games, the event gave families one last chance to exchange trading cards and have some fun before a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill.

Batman flew by to say a special hello to Greta and Wes at the Family Advocacy Day Celebration dinner. Complete with a band, dancing, caricatures, face-painting, photo booths and games, the event gave families one last chance to exchange trading cards and have some fun before a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill.

The Christiansens pose with Congressman Eric Paulsen under his Minnesota-made canoe.

The Christiansens pose with Congressman Eric Paulsen under his Minnesota-made canoe.

After a special breakfast of Minnesota Mahnomen porridge in U.S. Sen. Franken’s office, Greta cozied up next to him as he listened to the Christiansens' moving story. It’s not every day you get to sit on a U.S. senator’s couch.

After a special breakfast of Minnesota Mahnomen porridge in U.S. Sen. Franken’s office, Greta cozied up next to him as he listened to the Christiansens’ moving story. It’s not every day you get to sit on a U.S. senator’s couch.

Eleanor talks to Congressman Keith Ellison about the importance of funding programs like the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program, which provides funding to train future pediatricians and specialists like the ones that treated Greta.

Eleanor talks to Congressman Keith Ellison about the importance of funding programs like the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program, which provides funding to train future pediatricians and specialists like the ones that treated Greta.

Don’t forget kids in cars

Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car. Never leave your child unattended in the car. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car. Never leave your child unattended in the car. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Dex Tuttle

I’ve often surprised myself by how forgetful I am as a parent. It’s possible I’m the only dad who has nearly forgotten that his daughter needs to eat and, more specifically, that he’s responsible for making sure that happens. I know for a FACT, however, that I’m not the only dad who has forgotten the diaper bag in the car and been forced to speed-run the grocery shopping to get a stinky child out of the store as fast as possible. On tired days after sleepless nights, I’ve forgotten that my keys are in the ignition of the car I’m driving and seriously debated being late for work to turn around and go get them.

I’m exposing a vulnerable part of myself a little when I admit this type of fault, but I know I’m not alone. As the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s, I feel even more responsible to be mistake-free in providing a safe environment for my child, and I feel that much more silly when I fail to do so.

Subscribe to MightyWhen Quinnlyn was learning to walk, she pulled herself up on me as I sat in my “dad chair” in the living room. (I’ll admit, realizing that the recliner was a crucial part of fatherhood was a huge part of my excitement for becoming a dad, but I digress.) She grabbed my hands and smiled at her accomplishment. After a few happy moments, she started to turn and walk away, and I forgot that she wasn’t yet able to stand on her own. I let go of her hands and down she went, flat on her back. Thankfully, she was OK. She actually laughed it off (her reaction to near-injury that would soon give me anxiety) and got herself back up.

So far, my follies have been rather benign. Still, I live in eternal fear of finding myself in that vulnerable, forgetful moment when something more serious happens.

As the summer ramps into full swing, one such mistake I’m determined NOT to make is forgetting Quinn in the car. This can happen for one of two reasons: we don’t realize the danger, or we find ourselves in a moment of distraction and leave out one very important detail.

Let me first convince you that this is extraordinarily dangerous:

  • Children have lower water reserves, so their body temperatures rise three to four times faster than an adult.
  • The temperature inside a car can rise 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit every 15 minutes (on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees).
  • Since 1998, more than 580 children in the United States have died from being left in vehicles.
  • In car seats, children are insulated, making it more difficult for their bodies to regulate overheating.
  • Signs of hyperthermia set in when body temperature reaches just 100.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which children will surpass in only a matter of minutes; internal organs can begin to fail at 104 degrees, and death can occur when body temp reaches 107.
  • Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car.

On most days, strapping my daughter into her car seat easily could be the final challenge on a reality game show that tests strength, patience and fortitude. Therefore, I’m admittedly hesitant to take her in and out of the car more than I need. However, you never know what will happen; on an average day, there are so many things that are out of your control and could delay a quick stop or create catastrophic failure of your car’s air conditioning. Please take control of what you can and never, ever leave your child unattended in the car.

But as I’ve already admitted, I’m forgetful. Here are some tips on making sure you don’t forget your most-precious package:

  • Place an important item in the backseat. My recommendation is to leave your phone there – thus removing a major distraction while driving – but it can be a purse, wallet, computer, jacket or any other item you know you’ll need when you arrive at your destination.
  • If you don’t carry items often and you drive a car with an automatic transmission, take the shoe off the foot you don’t use for the pedals and put it in the back seat. This can be a fun game where everyone in the family participates.
  • Leave yourself a note on the dashboard: “BABY IN BACK!”
  • Put a stuffed animal or doll in the car seat when your child isn’t in it. When you strap your kid in for a trip, put the stuffed animal in the seat next to you up front – a reminder that something is out of place.
  • If you have a GPS-enabled device, set location reminders when arriving at your favorite locations – the grocery store, work, restaurants, etc. Kars 4 Kids is developing an app that works with your car’s Bluetooth capabilities to remind you as you walk away from the vehicle.

Make arrival habits:

  • Always do a walk-around of your vehicle to ensure you’re a safe distance from other hazards and make note of items that will help you remember where you parked.
  • Always use the passenger-side doors to load and unload for trips. This will force you to walk around the car to collect your items.
  • Make a game with your child where you always sing a song, say a phrase, do an activity each time you stop at a destination. Even if your child is sleeping, the habit will keep your mind thinking about the little person in the backseat.

Other resources:

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Five things to know about heat exhaustion

With sun and humidity a factor during summer in Minnesota, we thought it was a good time to talk about ways to keep kids safe in the heat. In addition to our quick tips for protecting your kids from dehydration, here are tips on avoiding heat exhaustion. We believe in Making Safe Simple, so take a few moments to review these tips!

  1. Subscribe to MightyChildren adjust more slowly than adults do to changes in environmental heat. They also produce more heat with activity than adults and sweat less. Sweating is one of the body’s normal cooling mechanisms. Children often don’t think to rest when having fun and may not drink enough fluids when playing or exercising.
  2. Heat exhaustion results from a loss of water and salt in the body due to excessive sweating. It occurs when the body is unable to cool itself properly and, if left untreated, can progress to heat stroke.
  3. Signs of heat exhaustion in children are: profuse sweating, pale skin that’s cool and damp to the touch, rapid and shallow breathing, headache, nausea, normal or below-normal body temperature, vomiting or diarrhea, dizziness, weakness or fainting, and muscle cramps.
  4. If your child is experiencing heat exhaustion, move him or her to a cool place right away to rest. You should remove extra clothing and apply cool cloths (towels with cold water) and fan the child’s skin. Give him or her cool sports drinks containing salt and sugar such as Gatorade (if the child doesn’t feel nauseated).
  5. Call your doctor or go to the emergency department if their condition hasn’t improved or your child is unable to take fluids within an hour.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

Stay safe and avoid dehydration in hot weather

Follow these quick tips to keep your kids safe from dehydration when they’re out playing in hot temperatures.

Summertime is definitely here, and what kid can’t wait to get outside and play? But staying safe in the sun, and avoiding dehydration, is important.

Subscribe to MightyWe believe in Making Safe Simple. Here are some quick tips to help your kids avoid dehydration:

  • On hot days, make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The human body requires at least one liter of water daily.
  • Dehydration means that a child’s body doesn’t have enough fluid. Dehydration can result from not drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, or any combination of these conditions. Sweating or urinating too much rarely causes it.
  • Thirst is not a good early indicator of dehydration. By the time a child feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. And thirst can be quenched before the necessary body fluids have been replaced.
  • Signs of dehydration in children include the following: sticky or dry mouth, few or no tears when crying, eyes that look sunken into the head, lack of urine or wet diapers for six to eight hours in an infant (or only a small amount of dark yellow urine), lack of urine for 12 hours in an older child (or only a small amount of dark yellow urine); dry, cool skin; irritability, and fatigue or dizziness in an older child.
  • If you suspect your child is dehydrated, start by replenishing his or her body with fluids. Plain water is the best option for the first hour or two. The child can drink as much as he or she wants. After this, the child might need drinks containing sugar and electrolytes (salts) or regular food. Also, the child should rest in a cool, shaded environment until the lost fluid has been replaced.
  • Call your doctor immediately or take your child to the nearest emergency department if there is no improvement or condition is worsening.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

Be smart, safe with fireworks

For many families, the Fourth of July celebration includes fireworks. It's important to take the proper safety measures when using fireworks (iStock photo / Getty Images)

For many families, the Fourth of July celebration includes fireworks. It’s important to take the proper safety measures when using fireworks (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Subscribe to MightyBy Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef

The Fourth of July is a day filled with fun, excitement and celebration. Across the nation, families and friends gather to celebrate our nation’s independence. Follow these tips to ensure maximum fun and prevent injuries.

Firework safety tips

Each year in the U.S., thousands of adults and children are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks and avoid a visit to the emergency room is to attend a public fireworks display. However, if you choose to light them yourself, here are a few ways to enjoy the fun while keeping you and your children safe:

  • Keep fireworks of any kind away from children, even after they have gone off. Parts of the firework can still be hot or even explosive after fireworks have been lit.
  • Older teens should only use fireworks under close adult supervision.
  • Keep fireworks far away from dense areas where there are a lot of buildings and/or people.
  • Do not light fireworks around flammable items such as dead leaves, gas-powered equipment or fabrics, and be sure they’re pointed away from people, animals and buildings.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher, water bucket and/or hose readily available in case of an accidental fire.
  • After you have enjoyed your fireworks, be sure to pick up any debris or pieces of the firework that may be left in the area. These small pieces may pose as a choking hazard for young children.

The Fourth of July weekend also is a great time for travel and spending time in the water. Please view these articles for tips on water safety and traveling:

Fireworks references: The National Council on Fireworks Safety, Parents: Fireworks Safety

Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef are members of Children’s injury prevention program team.

Precautions increase camping enjoyment

Camping can be an enjoyable activity to share with family and friends. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Camping can be an enjoyable activity to share with family and friends. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef

With school over and summer officially under way, a camping trip can be an enjoyable activity to share with your family and friends. Take advantage of these tips to have a fun and safe trip:

Skin and eye protection

First and foremost, you must effectively protect your skin before engaging in any outdoor activity, regardless of the weather.

  • The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try to plan outdoor activities before or after those times.
  • Children 6 months and older should use sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Do not use sunscreen on children younger than 6 months as they may ingest the sunscreen by sucking on their fingers or arms. Additionally, their skin is thinner and may absorb chemicals from the sunscreen. Instead, cover infants head to toe in clothing to keep them shaded at all times.
  • Wear sunglasses that go around the entire head that also protect against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Try to wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, wear a wide-brimmed hat and try to stay in the shade when you can.
  • Protect yourself from bug bites by applying bug repellent with DEET. The CDC recommends a 30-50 percent concentration of DEET to prevent the spread of pathogens carried by insects.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied regularly, and bug repellent should not.

Subscribe to MightyPrepare yourself

  • Bring more than one first-aid kit.
  • Bring safe and healthy food with mostly nonperishable items and make sure all food is in waterproof containers and tightly packed.
  • Let others know where you’ll be going beforehand.
  • Avoid hypothermia by bringing insulated bedding and warm clothing for nights.
  • Stay well hydrated during the day by drinking plenty of water.

Water safety

  • Avoid swallowing water while swimming.
  • Always swim with a buddy and make sure there is an adult supervising at all times.
  • Whenever you are riding a water vehicle, always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Minnesota law requires children younger than 10 years old to wear a life jacket. We recommend that children older than that also should wear life jackets.
  • A life jacket should properly fit. You can determine the fit by a child’s weight.

Splish splash: The ins and outs of water safety (Twin Cities Moms Blog)

Fire/bonfire safety

  • When starting a fire, only burn dry, not damp, material and don’t use fire accelerants such as gas or lighter fluid.
  • Start the fire away from flammable things like trees and keep a bucket of water near.
  • Children should be supervised at all times and never near the fire.
  • Never burn containers that have foam or paint in them and never put pressurized containers into a fire. They may explode and release dangerous fumes.

For more information on camping safety, visit:

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef are members of Children’s injury prevention program team.

Laser in action: See how Gavin’s tumor met its match

Gavin Pierson (left) and Joseph Petronio, MD, visit during a photo shoot at Children's – St. Paul on Monday, June 16, 2014.

Gavin Pierson (left) and Joseph Petronio, MD, visit during a photo shoot at Children’s – St. Paul on Monday, June 16, 2014.

In the two years since Gavin Pierson’s brain tumor, which he calls “Joe Bully,” was discovered, he has undergone 17 surgeries. A combination of craniotomies and the Pfizer drug, palbociclib, had been managing the growth of Joe Bully, but not decreasing its size. Gavin and his family were growing tired and frustrated with invasive surgeries, and Gavin wasn’t bouncing back as well as they hoped.

Enter Visualase.

Visualase is a laser used for neurosurgery and is guided by MRI images to precisely target areas of the brain that were previously thought inoperable. After making a 3-centimeter incision, Joseph Petronio, MD, and his team guided a small laser fiber directly to Gavin’s tumor. Children’s is the only pediatric hospital in the Midwest using Visualase, and Gavin is the only patient in the country to use this technology to treat a mature teratoma brain tumor.

Learn more about how Dr. Joseph Petronio used the Visualase laser:

Subscribe to MightyNot only did this technology target and dissolve a significant portion of Gavin’s tumor, it’s also prohibiting re-growth – stopping Joe Bully in its tracks. The laser is so targeted that the brain tissue surrounding the tumor was unharmed, making for a quick recovery. Within 12 hours, Gavin was sitting up, eating and laughing with his siblings and parents. Gavin went home the next day and was back to school within four days.

These types of minimally invasive surgeries have incredible benefits for Children’s patients. Since obtaining Visualase in October 2013, Children’s has treated patients as young as 12 months for epilepsy and other types of brain tumors. Tools like Visualase are making tumors we once thought were inoperable – operable.

Gavin vs. Joe Bully: First-of-its-kind laser surgery shrinks tumor by more than 40 percent

The Piersons (from left), Steve, Gavin, Nicole, Grace and Gage, have been through a lot in the past two years.

The Piersons (from left), Steve, Gavin, Nicole, Grace and Gage, have been through a lot in the past two years.

If you’ve been following 8-year-old Gavin Pierson’s story, you know he and his family have been through a lot. In 2012, Gavin was diagnosed with a mature teratoma brain tumor.

Since then, he has undergone numerous craniotomies and he and his family have dealt with big drug companies to fight his brain tumor, which Gavin refers to as “Joe Bully.” Unfortunately, Joe Bully is a particularly tough tumor, located in an area that is difficult to operate on and comprised of hard, “concrete-like” tissue. While Gavin’s prior treatments made progress, Joe Bully kept growing back.

give_gavin_blogBut it appears that Gavin’s neurosurgeon, Joseph Petronio, MD, may have found Joe Bully’s weak spot. Over the past eight months, Gavin has undergone two Visualase laser surgeries, an MRI-guided procedure designed to incinerate the tumor. He’s the first patient with a mature teratoma to ever use Visualase – and it may have stopped Joe Bully in its tracks.

Children’s and the family also successfully petitioned pharmaceutical company Pfizer to grant Gavin access to an experimental drug, palbociclib, to help control the tumor’s growth. Gavin is the youngest patient to use palbo.

We’re happy to announce that a recent MRI scan showed Gavin’s formerly peach-sized tumor has shrunk more than 40 percent. Even better? There are no signs of regrowth.

Gavin’s courage and strength inspire us every day. Thank you, Gavin, and congratulations.

Learn more about Gavin’s story and surgery: