St. Louis Children's Hospital is proud to be a Children's Miracle Network affiliated hospital.
Every dollar raised by Children's Miracle Network (CMN) of Greater St. Louis, through the generous contributions and support of individuals, as well as local and national sponsors, helps Children's Hospital acquire programs, equipment and facility renovations to meet the needs of area kids.
Since its inception in St. Louis in 1988, CMN has donated more than $50 million to St. Louis Children's Hospital and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.
Visit www.cmn-stl.org for more information!
Read more about our 2021 CMN Patient Ambassadors below!
Olivia is a sweet and funny child who radiates pure joy around anyone she meets. She is always the first one to step up and help others any way she can. Described as a firecracker by her dad, Olivia is full of personality, loves math and to have fun with her tightknit family that includes her 16-year-old brother and parents, Keionna and Maurice.
Before Olivia was born, her parents knew there was a chance she would inherit sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that prevents the body's organs and tissues from getting the oxygen they need to function properly. Both of her parents are carriers of the sickle cell gene, giving Olivia a greater chance of being diagnosed with the disease. Her newborn screening results came back abnormal, and the pediatrician called her parents to not only request a redraw of Olivia's screening, but a blood test from both parents as well.
At just 6 weeks old, Olivia’s doctors at St. Louis Children's officially diagnosed her with the chronic illness. Olivia's mom was in tears for her daughter because she grew up seeing loved ones struggle with debilitating effects of the disease. There are four main types of sickle cell, and Olivia's is Hemoglobin SS disease, the most common and most severe, because patients with this variation experience the worst symptoms at a higher rate. While her parents were devastated, they knew the Sickle Cell Disease Program at St. Louis Children's would provide the best and most consistent care for Olivia.
Starting around age 1, doctors discovered that Olivia developed an enlarged spleen, one of the common complications of the disease. Known as splenic sequestration, sickled red blood cells collect in the spleen, causing it to become enlarged and painful. While no immediate action was needed, doctors kept a close watch on her. During a routine medical appointment when she was 3, her care team found her hemoglobin levels were dangerously low and her spleen was even more enlarged.
Olivia was immediately admitted to Children's for a blood transfusion and to have her spleen removed. A few weeks after surgery, doctors worried about further complications and ordered a specialized ultrasound to evaluate blood flow to her brain that came back abnormal. A subsequent MRI revealed white spots on Olivia's brain — she had suffered what's known as a silent stroke due to her extremely low hemoglobin.
The next course of treatment was a series of blood transfusions every six weeks. Unfortunately, after three rounds, Olivia began to develop antibodies against the donor blood. Unable to find a new donor, Olivia was placed on medication to boost her hemoglobin levels.
There are always risks for Olivia. Due to COVID-19, she is currently doing virtual schooling, which prevents her from coming into contact with germs that could make her sick. Like many sickle cell patients who suffer from weakened immune systems, Olivia takes penicillin twice a day to prevent bloodstream infections. She also comes to St. Louis Children's every three months for routine screenings to make sure she is staying healthy.
Now almost 10-years-old, Olivia, who loves to watch YouTube videos and sketch, is living a fulfilling childhood — something her parents didn't know would be possible. While she has undergone surgery, numerous blood transfusions and medications to control the risks of further organ and joint damage, asthma and more, Olivia and her family know the outcomes have been better than they ever imagined.
How CMN Funds Help Olivia and Kids Like Her:
Programs that bring animals into the hospital allow kids to take their minds off the medical procedures and focus elsewhere. For Olivia, that meant redirecting her during years of routine blood draws as she developed a fear of needles. Thanks to funds from CMN, Olivia could focus on petting a furry friend next to her instead of paying attention to the nurses during anxiety-provoking procedures. Olivia was able to face her fears but direct her attention elsewhere, making the process much more manageable.
Maddy was born nine weeks early, along with her twin sister, Abby, but she was always considered perfectly healthy. An adventurous child, she enjoys softball, go-karting, four-wheeling and playing with her dog. But it all changed on January 14, 2020.
"Mom, there's a big lump on my neck," were the words that changed Maddy's life forever. After a weekend of playing basketball, showing no signs that anything was wrong, Maddy went to her mom and said those exact words. Her mom, Trisha, was visibly concerned, since the growth seemed to have appeared overnight, and called Maddy's pediatrician. They went to the doctor's office that morning and were told that the family needed to head to St. Louis Children's immediately for further testing. Once in the emergency department, Maddy was introduced to the Child Life team, who walked her through the x-ray she needed and then hung out with her while her parents spoke with the doctors.
With Maddy out of the room, her parents got the devastating news. It was cancer — Hodgkin's lymphoma to be exact. A rare cancer in children, the disease causes abnormal cell growth in the lymphatic system, the part of the body's immune system that helps fight disease and infection. She was immediately admitted to Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children's Hospital so her care team could understand more about her cancer and develop a personalized treatment plan. A scary time for Maddy and her family, the team from Child Life Services was there again to assist during her initial surgery and subsequent treatments. They provided her with blankets, toys and games that took her mind off the battle she was facing head on.
After two weeks inpatient, Maddy began attending outpatient therapy through the oncology clinic. While everything had been going according to plan, after the third round of chemotherapy, her positron emission tomography (PET) scan revealed the cancer wasn't shrinking at the rate the doctors needed, so it was time to get more aggressive.
Once again, Maddy was admitted into the hospital to undergo a stronger form of chemotherapy that required close monitoring of her vital organs, including her kidneys. Coincidentally, around the same time, the prevalence of the new COVID-19 virus forced St. Louis Children's to adopt a stricter visitor policy. Not only were the treatments getting tougher, but Maddy was only able to have her mom at her bedside instead of both parents and her twin sister.
After several more grueling rounds, her cancer had reduced dramatically, and she was allowed to go home for a break before she would need radiation therapy — one session five days a week for three straight weeks. One of those therapy sessions fell on Maddy's 11th birthday. Without skipping a beat, her friends in Child Life made sure it was still a special day by hanging a big banner and having presents and balloons for Maddy as a way to normalize those important childhood milestones.
Maddy's last radiation treatment was in July 2020 and she rang the bell, a milestone in cancer treatment that indicates the end of treatment. She's currently in remission and her latest scans have continued to show no signs of cancer.
How CMN Funds Help Maddy and Kids Like Her:
From her first steps into St. Louis Children's, the Child Life team was there for Maddy and her family. Without their support, Maddy's course of treatment would have been much harder to face. From preparing Maddy for procedures to making a book explaining her diagnosis for her to share with friends so she wouldn't have to, the Child Life team anticipated needs Maddy and her family didn't even know they had. Because COVID-19 also forced Children's to shut down many of the group activities, funds from CMN were used to create personalized bedside experiences for patients during their hospital stays to give them the chance to just be kids.