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Miracle Stories

Jeffrey keeps playing with help from MU

Jeffrey's favorite super hero is Superman. When he grows up, he wants to be a professional baseball player and professional photographer.

But Jeffrey isn't exactly like the other kids at his school. The 11-year-old has cystic fibrosis, which makes it hard for him to digest food and easy for him to get sick.

To monitor his health, Jeffrey regularly visits Children's Hospital, the only accredited CF center in mid-Missouri. When he gets lung infections - which happens to all CFers - he stays for a couple of weeks at a time.

"I have so much respect for the doctors and nurses and all of the support staff at Children's Hospital," his father said. "They've treated Jeffrey with so much respect and love."


Read Jeffrey's Story


Discovering it wasn't a regular fever

"What 18-month-old doesn't have a fever from time to time?"

That was Sylvie's first thought when her daughter, Pascale, spiked yet another fever.

But her pediatrician didn't think everything was right and sent Pascale to University of Missouri Children's Hospital for further testing. She was diagnosed with leukemia the next day. Pascale responded well to treatment and flourished. She started kindergarten and was just one month away from celebrating five years in remission when she relapsed. She went through treatment again and eventually had a stem cell transplant.

An active teenager, she is in high school, a dancer, a budding actress and cancer-free.


Read Pascale's Story


Big dreams, tiny beginnings

Clara was born at 9:19 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2001, weighing 1 pound, 1 ounce, not even the size of a soda bottle.

Clara, wrapped in plastic wrap to keep warm and prevent dehydration, was transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at University of Missouri Children's Hospital.

She was cared for around the clock by a team of professionals for 15 weeks. She underwent heart surgery at just 16 days old. Her lungs collapsed several times. She had eye surgery.

Now 9, Clara has grown up to be the tallest in her class and has no longterm health complications other than needing glasses. Today, Clara has big dreams, despite starting so small.         


Read Clara's Story


Growing up with diabetes

At age 3, it seems like Kennadie Higgins has an endless supply of energy, zipping through the house with a green, stuffed plush frog. Until, that is, she saunters into the living room drowsy.

Hours before bedtime, her father, Chris, suspects low blood sugar -- a symptom of Kennadie's disease, diabetes, which needs immediate attention.

"Let's check your blood sugar," Chris says

Still clutching her blanket, Kennadie holds out her hand.

It's taken some adapting, but with the help of experts at MU Children's Hospital, the Higgins family has learned to manage Kennadie's diabetes.        


Read Kennadie's Story


The blood that binds

Even before her daughter was born, Toni Westbrooks of Jefferson City knew little Laya had a 50-50 chance of having sickle cell anemia. Westbrooks and her husband were carriers of the trait, meaning they both carry the genes that can cause it, but don't actually have the disease. Soon after Laya was born, she was tested and found positive for sickle cell.

Her parents held out hope that she would be one of the lucky few with the disease who show few symptoms. That hope was lost, though, when Laya had her first stroke at age 4, a blood clot in her brain caused by her abnormally shaped blood cells -- like hooks or sickles. A few years later, Laya's sister Jade was born. Now 7 years old, Jade also has the disease. While treatments have improved since the 1980s, doubling the life expectancy of a person with sickle cell disease from 30 to 60 years, a cure still has not been discovered.

Even through the stress of Laya and Jade's disease, the family pushes to improve the lives of people with sickle cell. In the summer of 2011, they served as the faces of the annual Children's Hospital Mid-Missouri Miracles for Kids fundraiser at Walmart and Sam's Club stores.

"My philosophy is God put you on this planet to make it better," Westbrooks said. "So if God gave my girls this disease, there must be a reason for it. God must want them to help make a difference for those with sickle cell."


Read Laya and Jade's Story 

Help make miracles happen

By supporting Children's Miracle Network, you are helping to make miracles happen every day at Children's Hospital. To donate now or to learn about other ways you can be involved, contact Kristen Fritschie at (573) 882-5686.

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