December 13, 2016

When Desiree Bradley delivered her daughter, she wasn’t sure how long the little girl would survive due to an extremely rare genetic disorder called Jarcho-Levin Syndrome, which affects the spine, ribs and respiratory system. Nine years later, however, Deonc Bradley is a sassy, joyful girl who can periodically be seen bouncing down the halls of Texas Children’s Hospital, where she sees 13 different specialists for her condition.

“If Deonc was cared for anywhere else but Texas Children’s Hospital, I truly believe she would not be here,” Desiree said. “So anything I can do to help Texas Children’s be the best place it can be, I’m willing to come out here and do.”

The Bradley family was one of several patient families that participated in the 2016 Texas Children’s Radiothon. Hosted by Cox Media Group Houston, the two-day event was held December 1 and 2 on the third floor of the Pavilion for Women near the Bistro Café.

Throughout the 48-hour period, people opened their hearts and their wallets donating $655,039 to the radiothon while listening to radio personalities from The Eagle (106.9 & 107.5), Country Legends (97.1) and The New 93Q (92.9) interview patients, their families and many of our clinical experts.

Texas Children’s employees gave $4,000 to the cause. Executive leadership matched those donations and added their own bringing the total amount given by Texas Children’s employees to $7,000. The Snowdrop Foundation – which was started by Kevin Kline with The Q Morning Zoo on The New 93Q, made a donation of $150,000. The foundation is dedicated to assisting patients and families at Texas Children’s Cancer Center through funding for continued research to eliminate childhood cancer and scholarships for college bound pediatric cancer patients and survivors.

“This event makes a huge difference, and it tells our story,” said Jennifer Smart, a manager in the Office of Development and the program director for the hospital’s Children’s Miracle Network Program. “We couldn’t do it without them, so of course, we’re very appreciative of that.”

View a photo gallery from the event below.

Every dollar donated to the radiothon will help Texas Children’s continue to fulfill its mission to create a healthier future for children and women throughout our global community by leading in patient care, education and research. More specifically, the money will benefit Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the Pediatric Tower expansion and the new campus Texas Children’s is building in The Woodlands.

Christi Brooks with the New 93Q and Country Legends 97.1 has participated in the radiothon since its inception and said she’s met so many families over the years who have been touched by the “miracles” that happen every day at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“Thank God we have a facility like Texas Children’s Hospital here in our back yard,” she said. “This really is truly an amazing place of miracles.”

Desiree agreed and said Texas Children’s is her and Deonc’s home away from home.

“It’s a very special place, and until you step in these walls, you don’t understand just how special this place really is.”

“We’re on the eighteenth floor of the CVICU and watching the tower every single day make so much progress so quickly, makes us want it right now,” said Jessica Gaustad, a cardiology nurse at Texas Children’s Heart Center.

Like Gaustad and so many other Texas Children’s employees, it’s hard not to notice the incredible progress that’s been made on Texas Children’s Pediatric Tower. As each day passes, the tower is getting taller and taller. Since construction work began one year ago, 16 floors have been built on the existing 6-floor base next to Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Three more floors are being built to complete the external structure of the 19-floor vertical expansion of the pediatric tower.

To see how far we’ve come along, you don’t have to look very far. This time lapse video highlighting the pediatric tower construction also includes animation of the different critical care services that will be housed in the tower once the approximately 640,000-square foot structure is completed in August 2018.

Texas Children’s Heart Center will have eight dedicated floors in the new tower to house the Heart Center outpatient clinic, catheterization lab, cardiovascular intensive care unit, a cardiovascular operating room and cardiology acute care beds. Also, the tower will be home to a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit that will span four floors and open with 84 beds, including neuro ICU rooms, surgical ICU rooms and a progressive care unit.

Additional features of the tower include a total of 10 operating rooms, one radiology suite, faculty offices and a helistop on the roof of the tower to transport high acuity patients to Texas Children’s.

Earlier this year, a series of pre-construction simulation activities led by Dr. Jennifer Arnold’s simulation team were conducted to ensure the final interior layout of the pediatric tower would be designed in a way that promotes the safest possible environments to care for critically ill patients and their families.

“We were able to tweak a lot of things from how we envisioned beds being situated in a room to where the code carts are going to be located to even simple things like clock placement,” Gaustad said. “Families were also a big part of this process as well. Their feedback was incorporated into the final design decisions.”

As for the design theme and colors, the pediatric tower’s public spaces will embody the Beauty of Texas. Floors will have different colors for wayfinding. Floor patterns will depict trails and streams. Curving walls and ceilings will mimic canyons, skies and clouds.

While much progress still needs to be made in anticipation of the August 2018 opening, Texas Children’s will host a topping out celebration on February 9, 2017, to mark the construction milestone of completing the tower’s external structure.

“There’s going to be a time before you know it, that we’re going to have space to accommodate families,” said NICU nurse Nicole Leathers. “We’re going to have space to make the patient family experience more comfortable and will have more space to deliver the best care to our critically ill patients.”

For Veronica Velez, an Orthopedic surgery coordinator, she envisions the many benefits the new tower will bring for many years to come.

“When I am a retired nurse and there’s a new generation of nurses working on those floors that are being built right now, they can say a lot of thought went into this and they did a great job.”

121416perfusionists640When a child has open heart surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital, they receive some of the best care in the country. Our Heart Center, ranked No. 2 in the nation, is equipped with state-of-the art technology, highly trained and skilled surgeons and anesthesiologists, as well as a team of unsung heroes called perfusionists.

Perfusionists operate the heart lung bypass machine needed to keep a patient alive during open heart surgery. The machine takes deoxygenated blood out of a patient’s body, runs it through an artificial lung to give it oxygen, and then pumps it back into the patient’s blood stream.

While the idea may sound simple, the procedure and process is not and is performed at the Heart Center by a longstanding team of experienced and professional perfusionists.

“Perfusionists are absolutely vital when we perform open heart surgery,” said Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. “What they do is extraordinary and allows us to do very complicated operations on children who otherwise would not be able to survive.”

Fraser recognized the benefit of a strong perfusion team early on and is responsible for creating a dedicated pediatric team at Texas Children’s in 1995 shortly after being named chief of Congenital Heart Surgery. All three members of the original team – Mary Claire McGarry, Maryann Mueller and Deb Surprise – are still working in the Cardiovascular Operating rooms today and remember what it was like in the beginning.

Mueller remembered Fraser recruited her and her colleagues from the Texas Heart Institute where they worked with both adult and pediatric patients. The first few years at Texas Children’s, she said, were spent honing their skills to provide the best perfusion for children.

Surprise recalled how Fraser brought with him a new approach to pediatric perfusion. His idea was to create a specialized pediatric protocol that would be tailored to each individual child.

“Everyone was invested in the success of Dr. Fraser and what he was trying to accomplish,” Mueller said. “We wanted him to be successful – and for our patients to come in, have surgery and then head home to lead healthy lives.”

Over time the team grew to what it is today, eight perfusionists who work closely with the surgical team. Due to their ever evolving skill levels, the team continues to see more complex patients, many of whom have benefited from the hard work of the surgeons and clinical staff at Texas Children’s Heart Center.

Fraser and his team recently performed their 10,000th heart procedure with the use of heart lung bypass on Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program patient 31-year-old Stephanie Granger, who was born with a congenital heart defect and had two surgeries as a baby and another when she was 6. Years later, she developed secondary problems from her heart defect.

“I started having some abdomen pain, so I went to my primary doctor,” Granger said. “They ran a CT scan and found there was a problem with my liver due to my heart.”

Soon thereafter, Granger scheduled heart surgery at Texas Children’s not only for herself but for her newly adopted daughter, Zoey, as well. Zoey was born with a similar congenital heart defect and needed surgery just like her mother.

“When we adopted her, we told them we were open to various conditions,” Granger said. “We told them we had a family history of congenital heart disease and that we fully understood it.”

McGarry said she can’t believe the team just reached the 10,000 pump case milestone and that it’s a testament to how far they’ve come.

“People now from all over the world come to see what we do,” she said. “It’s amazing and makes me very proud to have been a part of the program for so long.”

121416beckywhiteaward640Becky White, a former neonatal nurse and now patient care coordinator at Texas Children’s, recently won the Patients’ View Institute (PVI) Partners in Healing Award during a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. co-sponsored by The Leap Frog Group. Chief Quality Officer Dr. Angelo Giardino also accepted this award on behalf of Texas Children’s.

Each year, this award honors a patient’s story that demonstrates how a partnership between a patient or their loved ones, and their hospital care team, achieved a healing health care event or experience.

When White was pregnant with her son, Wade, doctors told her that her child may not survive due to medical complications. Miraculously, Wade pulled through but his road to recovery would be a difficult one. Born with complex health issues, Wade would undergo more than 50 surgeries before he turned 5.

As the mother of a son with special needs, White struggled trying to communicate effectively with her son’s medical team, at times feeling like she wasn’t being heard. So, she decided to go back to school to become a pediatric nurse, hoping that her medical background could help overcome this communication barrier.

“My experience as a NICU nurse helped me to communicate more effectively with my son’s doctors,” said White, a patient care coordinator at Texas Children’s. “It also gave me the opportunity to connect with hospital executives to help them relate data and patient outcomes to the actual patient experience.”

These opportunities emerged after White read a blog post from Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace about customer service and what every employee can do to ensure patients and their families have an exceptional experience at Texas Children’s. Touched by this blog, White emailed Wallace to share her thoughts and experiences as a parent of a Texas Children’s patient and as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse.

“I was very appreciative that our CEO took the time to respond to my email,” White said. “After our initial meeting, Mr. Wallace invited me to shadow him for one day so I could experience firsthand what our administrative leadership team does behind the scenes to support our frontline staff and employees.”

Wallace also shadowed White in the NICU where he met with patient families and Texas Children’s NICU leadership and nurses who shared the remarkable improvements their teams have made to improve patient safety and enhance the overall NICU experience for patients and their families.

“My experience with Becky was just another reminder that whether we work at the bedside or behind the scenes, everyone matters and everyone’s perspective has value,” Wallace said. “Everyone’s work is essential at Texas Children’s, and when we all share this same intense passion for the mission, we drive it forward.”

So far, more than 40 hospital executives have accompanied Becky in the NICU, which prompted leaders to create an organization-wide Executive Rounding Program to be implemented in other areas of the hospital. The program has helped improve communication and empathy with patients and their families.

By advocating for her son, becoming a nurse, and helping health care administrators to better understand patient and family issues, Becky’s story represents an important patient perspective – one that others on both sides of the bedrail can learn from.

Click here to read White’s Voice of Nursing blog about her experience shadowing Mr. Wallace. Click here to read Mr. Wallace’s perspective of his experience rounding with White in the NICU.

121416ambassadorspg640On December 1, more than 250 revelers gathered at the home of Judy and Glenn Smith for the inaugural Ambassadors for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands Holiday Party.

Catered by Jackson & Company, guests were welcomed to the fête by an abundance of holiday décor capturing the season’s spirit. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were passed before guests made their way outside to a lavish, heated tent adorned with chandeliers and greenery for remarks and dinner.

Michelle Riley-Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, welcomed attendees and shared the success of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands’ outpatient services thus far. Following personal remarks from Glenn Smith, a check for more than $1 million was presented to Riley-Brown on behalf of Ambassadors for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

The hospital’s inpatient services, including the emergency center, will open in April 2017.

121416shirleycherian175Shirley Cherian, project manager, Radiology, died unexpectedly on November 29, 2016. She was 30 years old.

Shirley joined Texas Children’s Hospital in February 2011 as a CT technologist in the Radiology Department. A colleague who was loved by everyone she interacted with, Shirley earned her MBA going to school during the day and working as a technologist during the night shift at Texas Children’s. In 2013, Shirley was promoted to project manager for Safety, Regulatory & Education. Shirley was brilliant in this role and was considered a rising star in Radiology. Her encouraging smile, her willingness to help, her quick wit, her graciousness and, most important, her passionate dedication to the children and families we serve, are just some of the qualities that made Shirley special to her friends and colleagues.

Shirley is survived by her parents, Mr. Cherian M. Cherian and Mrs. Lizzi Cherian; sisters, Mrs. Sheba George and Mrs. Susan Thomas; brothers-in-law, Mr. Johnsly George and Mr. Ashley Thomas; and nephews, Aiden Thomas and Andrew Thomas. To her many extended family and friends, she will be greatly missed.

In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions in memory of Shirley may be directed to Texas Children’s Hospital, Radiology Education Fund, 1919 South Braeswood Blvd., Suite 5214, Houston, TX, 77030, or online at

Services were held in the Dallas area.


121416mainstreet640If you want to have fun this holiday season while supporting a good cause then Main Street America’s annual holiday event in Spring is just what you are looking for.

Called Lights of Hope, the event provides nine Houston-area charitable organizations one of the 12 Main Street America designer showcase homes to create a thematic outdoor lighting display.

Texas Children’s home was decorated by staff in The Woodlands and is themed “Presents Under the Tree.”

Mike Feigin, owner of Main Street America and son of the late Dr. Ralph Feigin, developed the charity idea three years ago with his wife Barbara after hosting the Christmas on Main Street event for five years. The couple believes it is important to support the organizations and hope the event raises awareness for them and the wonderful things they do for Houston and its surrounding areas.

The decorated homes are open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Saturday through December 17 at 18750 Interstate 45 N. in Spring, off Exit 66B. The community is invited to tour the homes and cast a vote with a $1 donation. All donations are given directly to each of the participating charities. Last year, the event raised $88,000 for 11 participating organizations.

In addition to being able to keep the donations, the charity with the most votes will receive a $10,000 check for the best outdoor light display, with the Lights of Hope award presented December 17 to the home with the most popular votes.

This year’s nine participating Montgomery County and Houston-area charities include: My Person Foundation, The Breast Center, New Danville, Bridgewood Farms, JDRF, Interfaith of The Woodlands, HOPE, American Heart Association and Texas Children’s Hospital.

If Texas Children’s wins, the $10,000 will be given to the Texas Children’s Hospital Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) to support childhood neurological research.

For more information about the Main Street America event and for an exclusive $5-off coupon, click here. If you can’t make it to the event but want to vote for the house decorated by Texas Children’s employees, click here. For every dollar donated, the Texas Children’s house will get a vote.

Thanks for your support!