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Caitlin Veitz never takes for granted just how special her daughter Kieran is. “She’s laid back, happy, wonderful,” Caitlin says. The circumstances around her birth, however, were not as serene. At her 20-week ultrasound, Caitlin learned her baby's heart was not where it was supposed to be and that it had developed outside of the chest wall. The condition, called ectopia cordis, is "one of the, if not the, most rare congenital heart defects,” according to Joseph Dearani, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiac surgeon. “We didn’t have any idea that anything like that could happen," says Caitlin. "It was scary. The odds were stacked against her.”
It was Halloween night, 2014. Brianna Bosley, 18, a studio arts major at the University of Arizona in Tucson, was planning to attend a party with friends. Some 100 miles to the north, in Scottsdale, Arizona, Dave Patel, M.D., a Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist, also was getting ready to celebrate Halloween with his 10-month-old son, something he had long-planned with his family. And he had made a pledge to not be a slave to his cell phone that night. Neither Brianna nor Dr. Patel knew their lives would soon intersect – in a profound and dramatic way.
Christina Woodside starts off the YouTube video that chronicles her health journey by saying, “My family is like every other average family in America.” Her story, however is anything but average. As part of an active family, Christina, along with her husband and their five children, enjoyed running, biking, fishing and snow sports. In 2013, on the day after Thanksgiving, that active lifestyle was interrupted by what Christina initially thought was strep throat. She went to urgent care at a clinic in her hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. A strep test came back negative. But her white blood cell count was extremely high, and that pointed to a more serious problem.
A diagnosis of stage IV melanoma can be a frightening prospect, with surgery and chemotherapy often an integral part of the treatment regimen. But Frank Moseley, a Jacksonville, Florida, native with an advanced melanoma diagnosis, was eager to do whatever it takes, even going beyond the norm, to give him the best chance of recovery. So when Frank agreed to become the first participant in a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus and be injected with a form of the herpes virus to treat his melanoma, it was no surprise that he was confident it would work.
He melts hearts with his infectious smile, cheerful attitude and frequent magic tricks. But the slogan on Haonan Jiang's T-shirt, which reads "Tough as Nails," is a more accurate summation of his spirit, and the fight he and his family have been waging. The 11-year-old from Beijing, China, prefers to be called "Jack." He is suffering from what is known as an anaplastic astrocytoma, a grade 3 malignant tumor, according to his doctors at Mayo Clinic. The typical survival rate after diagnosis is one to three years. Jack's parents, Ben and Lili Jiang, had promised him a trip to see America when he finished primary school. But instead of sightseeing, their focus is now on Jack and doing anything possible to stop, or at least slow, his deteriorating and deadly condition.
Andre Pearson wanted nothing more than to be in Indio, California, last June to answer the question: "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" But up until the night before, it looked like he was going to be resigned to watching his daughter, Alexandra Price, get married from half a country away. Heart and kidney failure had kept Andre in a hospital bed at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus since March. But then his care team had an idea.
Each year after their big Thanksgiving meal, Tess Wilson's family has a tradition of playing games in a gym to burn off some calories. For much of her high school and college years, Tess spent that afternoon sitting on the sidelines watching the rest of her family run around. Severe, chronic pain made it impossible for her to join in the fun. Thanksgiving Day 2014 was different. On that day, Tess was in the thick of the action. She played capture-the-flag, hide-and-go-seek, soccer and tag. "I was incredibly sore the next day, but not in a chronic pain way," she says. "I just used muscles that I had forgotten were there." The change came as a result of Tess' participation in a a clinical research trial at Mayo Clinic that studied the effects of a new treatment for chronic nerve pain, called scrambler therapy. After two weeks of the therapy, Tess found relief from the constant pain that had been plaguing her for five years.
My head pounded incessantly. With every sip of water, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades. I coughed and wheezed so hard that my stomach muscles ached. But as sick as I was, this would be one of my healthiest days, because a visit with a vigilant nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic may have saved my life. After feeling really crummy for several days last spring, lying in bed "drinking plenty of fluids," and hoping whatever was ailing me would pass, I decided that I had waited long enough. I visited Mayo Clinic Express Care at one of the Hy-Vee Grocery stores in Rochester, Minnesota. That's where Dawn Kaderabek, a Mayo Clinic nurse practitioner, diagnosed me with Influenza B. She also noticed something unusual. While listening to my heart, she heard a whooshing sound and asked if I had ever been told about a murmur. I said no, I hadn't. She told me that murmurs are not always dangerous but recommended that I get this checked out sooner rather than later.
Stacy Carlson was born with congenital myasthenic syndrome, and although she received a number of opinions throughout her life, it wasn’t until age 44 that she received a definitive diagnosis. It was after her local physician referred her to Andrew Engel, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, that DNA testing confirmed a particular gene fault responsible for Stacy's ills. Stacy would learn that she had congenital myasthenic syndrome, an inherited neuromuscular disorder caused by defects of several types at the neuromuscular junction. It was a long road getting to that diagnosis.