April 19, 2016

Two decades after Texas Children’s Hospital opened its doors in 1954, the hospital’s medical staff was called on to care for one of the most famous patients in the world – David Vetter, better known as “the bubble boy.”

David’s life, Texas Children’s involvement in his care and the advancements that have been made in the field of immunology, allergy and rheumatology were the topic of two recent Forums Luncheons hosted by our Office of Development to help engage current and potential donors in our mission.

At the River Oaks event and the one held in The Woodlands, former members of David’s care team and members of David’s family described the little boy’s historic journey, which began on September 21, 1971, at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“David was born with severe combined immunodeficience or SCID,” said Dr. William Shearer, the former section chief of Allergy and Immunology. “The hereditary disease, which dramatically weakens the immune system, forced David to live in a clear sterile chamber that resembled a bubble.”

Shearer and other members of Texas Children’s medical staff, including Dr. Imelda Hanson, a physician in Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology, cared for David until he died of Burkitt’s lymphoma on February 22, 1984, four months after receiving a bone marrow transfusion from his sister. It was later discovered that her marrow contained traces of a dormant virus – Epstein-Barr – which had been undetectable in the pre-transplant screening.

But, as former members of the boy’s medical staff explained, neither David’s life nor his death were in vain.

The dark-haired boy whose face covered magazines across the globe changed the face of immunology here at Texas Children’s and nationally, giving children born today with SCID a good chance at living a normal life. David, who would have been 40 this year, also paved the way for Texas Children’s Hospital to become an international referral center for families worldwide seeking hope and advanced, comprehensive diagnoses, treatment and care, said Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline.

“A few years after David’s passing in 1989, Texas Children’s Hospital was still primarily a regional hospital,” Kline said at the luncheons.” Today, we treat patients from all 50 states and about 60 countries. In fact, we are now an international referral center for some of the world’s most complex cases.”

Many of those cases are children with SCID and almost all benefit from the great strides in SCID research Shearer and Hanson have made after David’s death.

Shearer, for example, helped create the David Center at Texas Children’s Hospital. The center provides state-of-the art care and cutting-edge research for immune system diseases that make children susceptible to auto immunity and infectious diseases. Hanson works with federal and state health agencies to institute newborn screening options for children with SCID and other immune deficiency disorders in Texas and throughout the United States.

David Vetter’s mother, Carol Ann Demaret, said at the luncheons that she cannot express how much the care her son received at Texas Children’s Hospital means to her and her family.

“I am so grateful to Texas Children’s Hospital for giving my family 12 years with our son we never would have had otherwise,” she said. “I could work for the hospital for 100 years and still never repay them for that gift.”

April 12, 2016

41316FunRun640Texas Children’s employees and Houston-area residents came out in full force to participate in the 4th annual Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

On April 9, more than 4,000 people of all abilities, including those needing walkers and wheelchairs, participated in the non-competitive 1K and 3K courses. Following the race, participants enjoyed the H-E-B sponsored Family Fun Zone, which was packed with snacks, entertainment and close to 40 attractions.

“We are excited to have this event at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus,” said West Campus President Chanda Cashen Chacón. “It’s a great way to show families that we are committed to the West Houston community.”

Executive Vice President John Nickens agreed and said the run’s stellar turnout is an example of the community’s support of Texas Children’s.

“Four thousand runners is amazing,” he said. “It’s definitely something to be proud of.”

Get a first-hand look at the fun by:

  • Flipping through a photo gallery of the event below.
  • Ordering your race-day photos from Spring Action. You can search by your bib number or last name to find your photos (if any exist). There also are hundreds of unidentified photos to sort through in the Lost & Found section. You can also browse the entire event, if desired.
  • Taking a look at our Facebook photo album from Saturday by.
  • Watching a video of the run.

41316malaria640The Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and Texas Children’s Global Health have been helping meet the health care needs of mothers and babies across the globe for years. With global health programs and projects in more than 20 countries, BIPAI and Texas Children’s Global Health have developed a network of partners who are sometimes called on to respond to emergency situations. For these scenarios, we often turn to Medical Bridges, a Houston-based non-profit that provides medical supplies and equipment to support our work.

Recently, BIPAI and Texas Children’s Global Health addressed pediatric emergencies in Papua New Guinea and during the Ebola crisis, in Liberia, with the help of Medical Bridges. Presently, there is an outbreak of malaria among pediatric patients in Luanda, Angola.

To address this health emergency, BIPAI, Texas Children’s Global Health and Texas Children’s Pediatric Hematology & Oncology program have partnered with Medical Bridges, Chevron and SonAir, an Angolan national air services company, to provide drugs, supplies and equipment to the Hospital Pediatrico David Bernardino (Bernadino Pediatric Hospital) in Luanda and to the hospital in Cacuaco. These much-needed drugs and supplies will help the staff at the hospitals address the recent outbreak of malaria among the pediatric population.

“BIPAI and Texas Children’s Global Health are fortunate to have partners like Chevron and Medical Bridges that can mobilize and respond proactively to public health emergencies around the world,” said Michael Mizwa, leader of BIPAI and Texas Children’s Global Health.

Ali Moshiri, president of Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Company, said the company is proud to be able to help mitigate public health situations such as these.

“We value our partnership with BIPAI and Texas Children’s Global Health,” Moshiri said. “This contribution underscores Chevron’s long-standing commitment to fight malaria and to the children of Angola who are most at risk for the disease”

The Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and Texas Children’s Global Pediatric Hematology & Oncology program started an Angola Sickle Cell Initiative (ASCI) in 2011 with generous support from Chevron, aimed at bringing neonatal Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) screening and care to two regions in Angola: Luanda and Cabinda. To date, 135,000 babies have been screened and, in 2015, with a donation from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), the first organized Hydroxyurea (HU) treatment program for Angola was begun.

April 8, 2016


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a $69.8 million grant to the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation–Malawi (Baylor–Malawi), an affiliate of the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatrics AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital, to support and expand HIV/AIDS programs in Southern Africa. The grant, through the USAID Regional HIV-AIDS Program, will fund a dynamic and innovative project called Technical Support to PEPFAR Programs in the Southern Africa Region, or TSP. Designed by the Baylor-Malawi team, TSP is a collaborative program that includes ICAP at Columbia University and Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundations in Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Angola.

“While Southern Africa remains the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, recent progress toward global elimination goals provides an impetus for coordinated, regional efforts,” said Dr. Saeed Ahmed, assistant professor of pediatrics with BIPAI who will lead TSP. “The program will address challenges related to HIV care and treatment, including pediatric and adolescent care, HIV prevention from mother to child and the unique gender aspects of the epidemic, providing a common regional platform for dissemination and rapid adoption of best practices.”

In support of the primary goal to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, TSP objectives are to:
Improve clinical and other technical outcomes of partner programs in the region by providing mission programs with technical support and short- and medium-term program assistance and capacity building toward sustainability;

Improve and rapidly expand pediatric and adolescent treatment services in the region by providing technical assistance in the short and medium term and longterm program support;

Implement PEPFAR programs directly, in close cooperation with USAID.

The TSP will provide a wealth of technical expertise, Ahmed said, including human resource capacity, physical infrastructure, existing networking and program implementation experience, bringing together formally the unique and complementary strengths of the Baylor network and ICAP at Columbia University. The Baylor foundations are the leading providers of pediatric and adolescent HIV care and treatment in their respective countries with Centers of Excellence anchoring broad networks of satellite clinics. ICAP, the second-largest PEPFAR implementing program, offers incredible geographic scope and technical, programmatic and monitoring and evaluation expertise. Combined, the Baylor network and ICAP have managed more than $1 billion in funding over the past 5 years, and are implementing more than 50 U.S. Government supported initiatives.

To provide assistance to regional HIV/AIDS programs, Baylor-Malawi and its partners have organized a ‘Dream Team’ of experts who will provide the technical advising backbone of the program. Through its implementing partners, the Dream Team will have access to an extensive network of more than 1,500 people, including doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, community health workers and volunteers, and pharmacists to provideHIV/AIDS program assistance and implementation.

“The high-quality assistance and program implementation provided by this project will strengthen the efforts in the region to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 benchmarks, which call for 90 percent of HIV-infected individuals to know their status; 90 percent of patients who know their status to be started on and adherent to anti-retroviral therapy; and 90 percent of patients on ART to be viral suppressed by 2020” said Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief, Texas Children’s Hospital and chairman of the department of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine.

Women and children are a special focus on the TSP program. It aims to achieve elimination of mother-to-child transmission, doubling of the number of children on anti-retroviral therapy and, through the DREAMS Initiative, assisting partners in developing interventions to address gender-based violence and reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women. DREAMS, or Determined, Resilient, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe Women, is a PEPFAR program to reduce HIV infections among girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

“This award is a true testament to the BIPAI Network’s ability and capacity as a global leader in pediatric HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Baylor–Malawi continues to excel in innovative program development,” said Michael Mizwa, chairman, Baylor–Malawi Board of Directors, chief operating office/senior vice president of BIPAI and director of global health at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“With the resources from this award, I am pleased that Baylor Malawi will lead a consortium that leverages the extensive expertise that is in the BIPAI network with its partners ICAP and regional ministries of health to accelerate the region’s advances to the 90-90-90 targets,” said Dr. Peter Kazembe, executive director of Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation–Malawi.

December 15, 2015


Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, and numerous members of his medical staff helped write the recently published, 7th edition of the textbook, Principles and Practice in Pediatric Oncology, the leading textbook in the field.

This thoroughly updated edition contains 54 chapters, more than 1,300 pages, and is the most comprehensive resource on the biology and genetics of specific childhood cancers including recent advances in the diagnosis, multimodal treatment and long-term management of cancer in young patients.

“Since the first edition was published 26 years ago, the biology and treatment of pediatric cancers have become increasingly more complex, which has made it more challenging to produce a textbook of this magnitude,” Poplack said. “There was immense collaboration involved to bring this exciting project to fruition.”

Besides being used by all medical schools, pediatric oncologists and institutions pursuing pediatric oncology research around the world, this textbook also provides helpful information geared specifically to caregivers and families of children with cancer, which adds to the unique quality of the book.

“This resource guide also comes in an e-book format,” Poplack said. “We will have periodic updates on the major chapters that will be available electronically to subscribers.”

Click here for more information about this textbook.

December 8, 2015


Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has been recognized as a Top Children’s Hospital by the Leapfrog Group for the third consecutive year. The Leapfrog Group is an organization that provides the only national, public comparison of hospitals across safety, quality and efficiency dimensions. Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus is honored among an elite group of only 12 children’s hospitals and is the only children’s hospital in Houston to be recognized with this prestigious distinction.

“It is an honor to again be recognized as a top performing children’s hospital,” said Chanda Cashen Chacón, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “Our physicians, nurses and employees constantly strive to provide high quality care for our patients while keeping their safety our top priority.”

This year’s list includes 12 Top Children’s Hospitals, 62 Top Urban Hospitals and 24 Top Rural Hospitals. The selection is based on the results of The Leapfrog Group’s annual hospital survey, which measures hospitals’ performance on patient safety and quality, focusing on three critical areas of hospital care: how patients fare, resource use and management structures established to prevent errors. Performance across many areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including survival rates for high-risk procedures and a hospital’s ability to prevent medication errors.

The Leapfrog Group was founded to work for improvements in health care safety, quality and affordability. The annual survey is the only voluntary effort of its kind. The Top Hospitals will be honored at Leapfrog’s Annual Meeting on December 2 in Washington D.C., which gathers key decision-makers from Leapfrog’s network of purchaser members, industry partners, health care stakeholders and national collaborators. For more information, or to see a complete list of The Leapfrog Group’s 2015 Top Hospitals, visit www.leapfronggroup.org/news.

December 1, 2015

On November 14, hundreds of families from around the country traveled to Houston to attend Texas Children’s Fetal Center family reunion. Since its inaugural event in 2007, the reunion provided an opportunity for physicians and staff to reunite with patient families who received life-saving medical and surgical care at our fetal center.

Nearly 420 families attended the event at the Houston Zoo – some traveling from Iowa, Louisiana, parts of Texas, and Monterrey, Mexico. Guests enjoyed face painting, dancing, sunglass craft, an animal experience where they got a chance to pet furry creatures, and in true Texas fashion, rodeo clowns.

The reunion has become a cherished experience for Fetal Center staff and patient families. Since many of these families spend extended periods of time with staff from Texas Children’s Fetal Center and Newborn Center, a special bond is formed between these patient families and the team members who treated them.

“The nurses and staff of the Fetal Center are the first point of contact for these families as they seek answers at a very difficult time in their lives,” said Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center. “The nurturing and compassionate care offered by the fetal team helps get many of these families through the rough patches. The bonds formed in the midst of challenges and adversity are those that are the tightest, strongest and most enduring.”

In collaboration with our Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists, the Fetal Center specializes in cutting edge medical and surgical care for the sickest of fetuses and neonates. Despite the challenging work involved, seeing these children thrive and the gratitude expressed by their parents and families, is what matters the most.

“We are always eager to catch up with our patients,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center. “To see how these children are developing and enjoying their childhood is incredibly gratifying, especially when I consider that these thriving kids were once very sick.”

Highlights from the Fetal Center reunion included speeches from Drs. Olutoye, Cass and OB/Gyn Chief Dr. Michael A. Belfort. Other Fetal Center team members in attendance included Drs. Rodrigo Ruano, Wesley Lee and Nancy Ayres.