Looking back: The little girl who battled H1N1 and prevailed
February 15, 2013
Driscoll Children's Hospital celebrates its 60th anniversary with a series of stories about extraordinary patients
Kayla Piñon (center) reflected on her life-threatening battle with the H1N1 flu recently with her parents, Luis and Melinda Piñon.
CORPUS CHRISTI - The number of South Texas families whose lives have been touched by Driscoll Children's Hospital since it opened its doors in 1953 is incalculable. And of the countless children who've come to the hospital in the past 60 years, many stand out for their particularly memorable stories. Driscoll is sharing some of those stories of hope and healing throughout 2013 as part of its 60th anniversary celebration.
Kayla Piñon became a member of the Driscoll family in 2009 when, at 10 years old, she battled her way back from a life-threatening case of the H1N1 flu. More than 1,000 children died from H1N1 during the 2009 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Popularly known as swine flu, H1N1 was particularly harmful to the young, who had little natural resistance to a virus that hadn't circulated in decades. Hundreds of people became ill with the virus in Nueces County and at least 11 people died from it between 2009 and 2010.
When she was admitted to Driscoll Children's Hospital, Kayla was dehydrated, underweight and gasping for air due to excessive fluid in her lungs.
"I just remember going into the hospital, then tubes being taken out of me seven days later," she said recently at her home.
Driscoll physicians said Kayla's was the severest case of the H1N1 flu they had ever seen. To make matters worse, she was also suffering from a staph infection called MRSA. It took a diverse team of experts and modern medical technology to save the girl's life. The tubes she recalled being taken out of her came from an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine, a mechanized pump that circulates the patient's blood and provides oxygen to the body when the body can't do it alone. It works like an artificial lung for patients who can't be supported with a ventilator, as was the case with Kayla.
"This case exemplifies the great teamwork that exists here at Driscoll Children's Hospital," said Karl Serrao, MD, a pediatric intensivist who helped treat Kayla. "To make this miracle happen, everyone including nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and many others worked together. Our community and our children benefit daily from Driscoll's investment in the ECMO machine and other innovative technologies and therapies."
Watching their daughter struggle to breathe, unconscious, was a day-to-day, nail-biting experience for her parents. When Kayla regained her health, her father, Luis Piñon, said it was a miracle. He also credited Driscoll's staff for being a source of comfort throughout the ordeal.
"The people there go above and beyond," he said. "From the chaplains, doctors and nurses to the housekeepers - they all treat you with respect, like you're part of the family. They don't give up hope."
Kayla gained local notoriety after her recovery. She and her parents gracefully gave interviews to newspaper and TV reporters who were eager to tell the story of the little girl who beat the odds. To this day, people who read about Kayla or saw her on TV ask about her, said her mother, Melinda Piñon.
Now a cheerful 8th grader who participates in tumbling at school, Kayla has a slight cough due to a small amount of fluid in her lungs - remnants of the H1N1 flu, explained her mother. She sees a Driscoll pulmonologist every three months for a check-up and breathing tests. All indications are that "she's doing good," Melinda Piñon said.
Luis Piñon has a new appreciation for the emotional challenges parents face when their child is hospitalized with a serious illness.
"Nobody really knows what that situation will be like until you're in those four walls," he said. "At times I had doubts about Kayla's outcome. But she's a survivor."
For the Driscoll team who treated Kayla, her case stands out as a moment of pride.
"It was an inspiration not only to see the family persevere and Kayla win, but also to see the staff at Driscoll step up to the plate during that challenging time of the H1N1 influenza outbreak," Dr. Serrao said.
The Piñons, who live in Corpus Christi, said they're grateful to have Driscoll Children's Hospital in their hometown. They've also taken their kids to Driscoll Children's Urgent Care clinic when they were sick.
"When people ask me about their children's illnesses, I tell them to take them to Driscoll," Melinda Piñon said.
Luis Piñon remembers driving past Driscoll Children's Hospital as a child. He said he hopes the hospital is around for another 60 years.
"We're blessed to have a hospital like Driscoll in Corpus Christi. For me, it's second to none. That's from the heart."
Driscoll staff will probably see Kayla in the future as a volunteer in the Summer Volunteen Program, her mother said. She loves to take care of children, particularly the young cousins she babysits.
"Children kind of gravitate to her," Melinda Piñon said.
Always optimistic, Kayla said her experience at Driscoll Children's Hospital helped her choose a career field.
"It would be a dream come true to be a nurse. I would like to help kids when they're sick. I already know about respiratory therapy and the machines that are used."
Driscoll's Teddy Bear Hospital is a chance for patients to be the doctors
April 08, 2014
WHAT: Patients will be the doctors tomorrow during a Teddy Bear Hospital organized by the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The event allows children to become more familiar with the medical equipment and procedures involved in their treatment. They'll choose their teddy bear, give it a name and, with the help of Child Life Specialists and other Driscoll staff, measure its height and weight, place an IV and draw labs, give it an X-ray, attach an anesthesia mask for surgery and put an arm or leg in a cast. The Teddy Bear Hospital and the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital are made possible by a $1 million donation from Stripes convenience stores.
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, 2014
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.
April is Child Safety Month
April 01, 2014
Driscoll Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program team
CORPUS CHRISTI - Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age one through 12 years old. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data, in 2010 almost an average of two children were killed and 325 were injured each day. This fatality rate could be reduced by half if the correct child safety seat had been used. Here are some great tips from Driscoll Children's Hospital and Kohl's Cares to help protect your child while in the car.
Car seat recommendations for children:
- Select a car seat based on your child's age and size.
- Choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer's instructions; read the vehicle owner's manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer's height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
Birth - 12 months
- Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 seats usually have higher weight limits, allowing children to stay rear-facing longer.
1 - 3 years
- Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Your child should remain rear-facing until he or she reaches the maximum height and weight allowed for the seat.
4 - 7 years
- Your child should stay in a forward-facing seat with harness until he or she reaches the maximum height and weight limit allowed for the seat. Once the child has outgrown the harness, the child is now ready for a booster seat.
8 - 12 years
- Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit into a seat belt properly. The law in Texas requires all children younger than 8 years old, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches, to be properly restrained in a child safety seat.
Kohl's Keep Your Kids Safe, Driscoll Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program, in partnership with Kohl's Cares, offers free car seat inspections. To make an appointment and have your car seat checked to ensure the safety of your child, call (361) 694-6700. http://www.keepyourkidssafe-kck.com/
Driscoll patients go to Spurs game courtesy of generous donors
March 28, 2014
WHAT: Five Driscoll Children's Hospital patients and their parents or guardians will gather at the hospital's lobby and depart for San Antonio to see a Spurs game as part of a live auction package purchased at this year's Fiesta de los Niños. Steve and Jessica Johnson of JSJ Services, Inc. have purchased this item at Fiesta for the last six years, donating a total of $152,250 to Driscoll Children's Hospital.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday, March 29
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Driscoll patients to be treated to Child Life Month celebration
March 10, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - The Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital will celebrate Child Life Month with a superhero-themed party for in-house patients tomorrow. The sixth annual event is designed to make hospitalization a little more pleasant for children by providing a distraction from their illness and an opportunity for socialization, self-expression and normalization.
March is Child Life Month
"Child Life professionals strive to promote coping and reduce anxiety of children and their families. They embrace the power of play to teach children about their diagnosis, prepare for and support during painful procedures," said Michelle Goodman, director of the fourth floor and the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll.
Driscoll Children's Hospital began a Child Life program in 1985. Today, Driscoll has nine Child Life Specialists who provide service to the Emergency Room, in-patient units 4T, 6T and 7T, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Renal Dialysis, Driscoll's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Day Surgery and Radiology.
Activities at the celebration will include face painting, making their own superhero masks and capes, superhero bowling and dart board, and photo booth. Employees from Stripes convenience stores will provide a carnival-style prize wheel and store coupons.
- What: Child Life Month Superhero Celebration for Driscoll patients
- When: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11
- Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.
12th annual Radiothon will broadcast live from Driscoll Children's Hospital
March 05, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - On Friday, March 7, K-99 (KRYS 99.1 FM) will team up with Driscoll Children's Hospital for the 12th annual Radiothon. The one-day event will be broadcasted live from the main lobby at Driscoll Children's Hospital beginning at 6 a.m.
Listeners can tune in to hear patients, parents, physicians and staff share inspirational stories of hope and healing. Over the past decade, K-99 listeners have helped raise more than $500,000 to benefit the patients and services provided at Driscoll Children's Hospital.
For more information or to donate, contact Driscoll's Development Department at (361) 694-6401.
- What: 12th annual K-99 Radiothon benefiting Driscoll Children's Hospital
- When: 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday, March 7
- Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Valdez brings neurology expertise to Driscoll
February 26, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - Marcos Valdez, MD, has joined Children's Physician Services of South Texas at Driscoll Children's Hospital as a pediatric neurologist. Dr. Valdez was previously in private practice in McAllen, Texas for 10 years. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Scott & White Memorial Hospital - Texas A&M College of Medicine in 1999 and a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at Texas Children's Hospital - Baylor College of Medicine in 2003. Dr. Valdez earned his medical degree in 1987 at Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon Medical School in Mexico. He is certified in neurology with a special qualification in child neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Páez receives certification in pediatric endocrinology
February 17, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - Ana Maria Páez, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at Driscoll Children's Hospital, recently passed an exam administered by the American Board of Pediatrics and is certified in pediatric endocrinology. Dr. Páez completed a pediatric endocrinology fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she performed her pediatric residency from 2007 to 2010. She joined Driscoll in 2013.
Booth receives certification in child abuse pediatrics
February 17, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - Ada Booth, MD, child abuse pediatrician with Driscoll Children's Hospital's Child Abuse Resource Evaluation (CARE) Team, recently passed an exam administered by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) and is certified in child abuse pediatrics. Dr. Booth graduated from a child abuse pediatrics fellowship at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio in 2011. She is also certified by the ABP in pediatrics.
Driscoll pediatric cardiologist recognized as distinguished alumnus at Louisiana Tech University
February 17, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - Driscoll pediatric cardiologist Brandon Lane Phillips, MD, FAAP, FACC, was recently recognized by The College of Engineering and Science at Louisiana Tech University as one of 14 of their 2014 Distinguished Alumni. Chosen alumni have distinguished themselves during their careers and in service to the university.
Dr. Phillips joined Driscoll in 2012 and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. In 2010, Dr. Phillips completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. His clinical interests include non-invasive imaging, outpatient cardiology and adult congenital cardiology.
Mayoral proclamation will be read at Driscoll Children's Hospital for Congenital Heart Defect Awareness
February 13, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - The week of Feb. 10-14 is recognized in the US as Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week (see www.tchin.org/aware/). In an effort to bring awareness to the community, Driscoll Children's Hospital has arranged for Corpus Christi Mayor Pro Tem Chad Magill to proclaim Feb. 14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day. The proclamation will be read at Driscoll Children's Hospital in the Auditorium at 3 p.m. during a CHD celebration for hospital staff.
What: Mayoral proclamation for Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day
When: 3 p.m. Feb. 14
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital (Auditorium - 1st floor) 3533 S. Alameda Corpus Christi, TX 78411.