May 20, 2019

“I’m excited every day I walk into Legacy Tower,” said Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, service chief of Critical Care Services at Texas Children’s. “It is a wonderful environment to work in. Our patients and their families are very happy with their new spaces, and we are very privileged to be in our new home.”

It’s been one year since Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower opened its doors for the first time to care for our most critically ill patients at Texas Children’s Medical Center campus. And, in that short period of time, our patients and their families have noticed a positive difference since moving into the new tower.

“The rooms here are very cozy and very spacious,” said Eleonor Caparas, whose daughter is a PICU patient at Texas Children’s. “We have our own space here and we can stay together with my baby. I like it because I experienced the old PICU on the third floor of West Tower, and it is so different now.”

Randy Bowen, a PICU nurse at Texas Children’s for more than 25 years, recalls when critical care moved from the Abercrombie Building to West Tower. He says the move into Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower has been a huge game changer in the delivery of patient care.

“Coming into this space now, supplies us with so much flexibility and the availability of resources to provide the patient care that we’ve always excelled at doing,” Bowen said. “But I think now we’re exceeding that and it’s just been exciting be part of the whole process.”

Since Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower opened on May 22, 2018, Texas Children’s critical care, cardiology, surgical and radiology teams have been very busy caring for our hospital’s sickest patients.

To date, the new tower has had 3,839 patient admissions in the pediatric and cardiac intensive care units. More than 9,000 patients have received care at Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower’s outpatient Heart Center clinics, and over 700 catheterization and 239 intraoperative MRI procedures have been performed here.

A total of 3,455 surgeries have been completed in the tower’s state-of-the-art surgical and cardiovascular operating rooms, totaling 13,921 surgical hours. Since the tower’s helipad opened last November, Texas Children’s has had 123 landings, allowing for greater access to Texas Children’s for the sickest patients.

“We have everything under one roof to take care of all of the sickest children,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Larry Hollier. “All of the diagnostic capability, the OR capability, the interventional radiology capability and then the ICU care. After visiting all of the leading children’s hospitals across the country, I can say without a doubt, no other children’s hospital has something like Legacy Tower.”


May 14, 2019

This month’s episode of Medically Speaking features Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Edward Buchanan speaking about Texas Children’s multidisciplinary approach to cleft lip and palate care. In his talk, Buchanan outlines the spectrum of cleft lip and palate presentations, from minor abnormalities to more severe structural issues. He also gives an overview of the steps along the patient’s and family’s therapy and treatment pathway, including:

  • Prenatal counseling and diagnosis
  • Best feeding practices
  • Primary repairs and secondary procedures
  • Final surgeries when the patient is 16 years or older

“Cleft lip and palate care at Texas Children’s is not fragmented,” says Buchanan. “This kind of care can’t be done effectively in a silo by just one person; it takes a team. Our experts follow the child through their entire care journey to make sure we’re optimizing outcomes and that we’re not missing any opportunities.”

Learn more about Texas Children’s expertise in our Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic and about the full suite of services provided by the Division of Plastic Surgery.

About Medically Speaking

Medically Speaking, a video series from Texas Children’s Service Line Marketing, features some of the brightest minds from several Texas Children’s specialty and subspecialty areas. The series is meant to be a helpful educational resource for parents and a convenient way for physicians and other caregivers to stay up-to-date on the latest in pediatric medicine. Viewers can watch talks on a variety of interesting topics, including advancements in surgery, breakthroughs in research, new clinical trials, and novel and back-practice treatments for specific conditions.

Don’t miss future Medically Speaking episodes featured here on Connect, or view additional episodes now.

This presentation is not intended to present medical advice or individual treatment recommendations, and does not supplant the practitioner’s independent clinical judgment. Practitioners are advised to consider the management of each patient in view of the clinical information. All content is shared for informational purposes only, and reflects the thoughts and opinions of the original author. No physician-patient relationship is being created by the use of this presentation. The presentation sets out recommendations based upon similar circumstances and is provided as an educational tool. The presenters are not attorneys, and to the extent this presentation provides commentary on current laws and regulations affecting health care activities, it is not intended as legal advice.

Online and direct scheduling have become easier at Texas Children’s with the introduction of MyChart, an online patient portal application launched in 2018. To date, thousands of patients have used the free MyChart feature to schedule and manage their appointments, communicate with their doctor, access medical records, obtain lab results and request prescription refills. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

May 6, 2019

Last year, Texas Children’s Health Plan celebrated the fifth anniversary of The Center for Children and Women. With two locations, the center has prospered and continues to provide high-quality community-based primary health care. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

Three-year-old Wade Davis rarely laughed or smiled as a baby. Before coming to Texas Children’s Hospital two years ago, the now energetic, gregarious little boy was very subdued.

“I just thought he was a serious child,” said Wade’s mom, Katie Davis. “I didn’t think there was anything physically wrong with him.”

But there was, and Katie quickly learned after a trip to the emergency room that Wade had a rare form of cancer in both of his eyes. Called retinoblastoma, the cancer begins in the back of the eye and is most commonly found in young children. Only 300 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.

To get the best care, Wade and his family traveled from their home in Lacassine, Louisiana, to the Texas Medical Center where they met with members of the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston, the only center of its kind in the southwest United States.

Created a decade ago, the center combines expertise from Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the Children’s Cancer Hospital at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. Together these specialists pioneer advancements in treating and curing retinoblastoma through ground-breaking research and the development of innovative therapies.

The center sees 20 to 25 patients a year, offering each one access to a team comprised of an ocular oncologist, pediatric oncologist, ophthalmic pathologist, cancer geneticist, genetic counselor, radiation oncologist, interventional radiologist, nurse practitioner, nurse coordinator and social worker. The team’s multidisciplinary approach results in an individualized treatment plan for each patient.

Depending on the kind and stage of retinoblastoma, the team offers treatments such as intra-arterial chemotherapy, intravitreal chemotherapy, systemic chemotherapy, laser therapy, cryotherapy, enucleation, proton beam radiation therapy, and brachytherapy. In children with widely metastatic disease, the center offers therapies such as autologous stem cell transplant.

“No other program of this type has the level of multidisciplinary expertise that we have at the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston,” said Dr. Murali Chintagumpala, clinical co-director of the center, pediatric oncologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “We are on the cutting edge of research performing important clinical trials that incorporate innovate treatment options such as intra-arterial, intravitreal and proton radiation therapy.”

For Wade, and other children like him, the center and its experts saved and changed his life. Dr. Dan Gombos, clinical co-director of the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston and ocular oncologist for the Children’s Cancer Hospital at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Dr. Frank Lin, a member of the center, a pediatric oncologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, at Baylor College of Medicine, were his primary physicians.

Working together with the rest of the center’s team, Gombos and Lin devised a comprehensive treatment plan for Wade that included surgery, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, cryotherapy and laser therapy. Fortunately, the vision in his right eye was saved and his cancer has been eradicated, allowing him to blossom into a feisty, full-of-life little boy.

“We are so thankful for what these doctors have done for our son,” Katie Davis said. “Everyone has been absolutely incredible.”

Lin said it’s a privilege to be able to work with patients like Wade and to be celebrating 10 years of partnership with other members of the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston.

“Our goal, beyond curing this disease, is to use the least invasive treatment necessary to save the child’s life, and when possible, their eye and their vision,” Lin said. “With the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston, our patients meet world class specialists focused on both their immediate oncology treatment as well as long-term follow-up so that they can thrive in the future. The center also provides them invaluable information about the genetics of their tumor and the risk to future siblings or ultimately their own children so that monitoring for early detection can be performed.”

The center currently is focusing its research on more effective ways of delivering therapy locally to the affected eyes while minimizing the side effects on the rest of the body. The center is also studying the mechanisms that spread the disease beyond the eye in children with retinoblastoma with the goal of developing treatments for this complication of the disease.

To learn more, visit the Retinoblastoma Center of Houston’s Website at

April 30, 2019

Last year, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands celebrated its first year serving patients north of Houston and beyond, collecting praise from patients and families seeking expert care closer to home. Read more

April 29, 2019

On April 26, superheroes of all sizes assembled on The Auxiliary Bridge to celebrate National Pediatric Transplant Week, observed each year during the last full week of National Donate Life Month in April.

The event, hosted by Texas Children’s Transplant Services, marked the end of a week that focuses on the powerful message of ending the pediatric transplant waiting list. There were plenty of fun activities for children, including karaoke, hula-hooping, coloring and crafts, a photo wall, and a visit from Elsa, one of Texas Children’s three therapy dogs. There were also educational materials available on organ donation and transplantation.

The event also honored real-life superheroes – the donor families whose children have saved and healed lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

The gift of an organ transplant comes to one family as another family is enduring the most difficult time of their lives. The team in Transplant Services works hand in hand with Texas Children’s Spiritual Care Department during these times to provide donor families with compassionate support, to honor the choice to donate an organ, and to honor the legacy of the patient.

There are several ways we recognize the legacies of these children and their families, including:

  • The observance of moments of honor, small ceremonies during which the gift of the organ donation is acknowledged and celebrated through readings and a blessing or prayer
  • Flag ceremonies, at which a Donate Life Flag is displayed and family, Texas Children’s staff and chaplains, and our LifeGift partners gather to tell stories about the patient, let the family touch the flag, share a group reading, and then the flag is then passed around the unit to be signed with messages of support and recognition from Transplant Services staff
  • National Donor Sabbath, an annual three-day observance where members of local faith communities participate in services and programs to honor donor families and to educate the public about the need for lifesaving transplants

In addition to these heartfelt moments of acknowledgement and remembrance, Texas Children’s Hospital has begun a new tradition to honor our donor families.

As the sun went down on April 22, Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower was illuminated in green and white. The tower was lit each evening for the rest of the week, both in commemoration of National Donate Life Month and Pediatric Transplant Week, and also as a tribute to our donor families. Going forward, the lighting of the tower will serve as yet another way Texas Children’s acknowledges them.

“Nothing we do would be possible without our donor families, and we wanted to find another way to honor them,” said Dr. John Goss, medical director of Transplant Services. “Now when people see Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower lit in green and white, they will know there’s a hero here at Texas Children’s who has just given the gift of life.”

About Transplant Services at Texas Children’s

Transplant Services at Texas Children’s was the nation’s largest pediatric transplant program in 2018, performing a remarkable 107 solid organ transplants including the highest volumes of pediatric liver, lung and kidney transplants.

Transplant Services provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to care through all aspects of the transplant process, from initial referral to hospitalization and outpatient management. Our team of experts includes physicians and surgical advanced practice providers, transplant coordinators, pediatric ventricular assist device coordinators, perfusionists, child life specialists, dieticians, social workers, financial counselors, pharmacists, inpatient and outpatient nursing and support staff, Perioperative Services, physical and occupational therapists, Radiology, Pathology, our LifeGift partners, and many others.

Our depth of skill and service enables us to offer world-class care for patients, from newborns to young adults, in need of heart, kidney, liver and lung transplants. That expertise has allowed us to successfully treat some cases that other national and international programs might consider untreatable.

Learn more about Transplant Services at Texas Children’s Hospital.