As we close out 2021, we wanted to take some time to reflect upon the past year and the amazing stories that some of our bravest pediatric patients at Atrium Health Levine Children’s have had throughout the year.

Child Health, News | 6 months ago

12 Days of Christmas: Atrium Health Levine Children's Most Inspiring Stories of 2021

As we close out 2021, we wanted to take some time to reflect upon the past year and the amazing stories that some of our bravest pediatric patients at Atrium Health Levine Children’s have had throughout the year. Take a trip down memory lane with us in our 12 Days of Christmas.
Series note: As we close out 2021, we wanted to take some time to reflect upon the past year and the amazing stories that some of our bravest pediatric patients at Atrium Health Levine Children’s have had throughout the year. Take a trip down memory lane with us in our 12 Days of Christmas.

For more, read Atrium Health's Most Inspiring Stories of 2021

On the first day of Christmas🎄

First Transcatheter Harmony Valve Implants

Congenital heart defects are present at birth and affect about 1 in every 100 children. One of the more common defects is called Tetralogy of Fallot, and is a combination of 4 heart defects. The majority of these patients will eventually need a valve replacement. However, until recently, about 80% of children with this condition did not have a valve replacement option other than open-heart surgery. 
We are proud to now report that Levine Children’s is the first in North Carolina (and second in the southeast) to implant a new FDA-approved valve implant called the Harmony valve! In June 2021, we successfully performed the first transcatheter Harmony valve implants in two pediatric and two adult congenital patients. These patients were able to go home the following day with a new valve, no stitches and a new sense of hope. 
We are proud to be one of the best in the region for cardiology and heart surgery, and even more proud to be able to see our congenital heart patients thriving! Pictured here is our dedicated team who performed these procedures.  

On the second day of Christmas❄️

Laith Finishes Treatment and Rings Bell

Meet Laith Alzoqari. 

A few years ago, when Laith first came to Levine Children’s he was so sick from the toll lymphoma had taken on his body. His parents, despite the language and cultural differences of having moved from Yemen just a little over a year before, put their trust and faith in us and worked alongside of Laith’s care team to give him the best care possible. 

Now, he is finished with treatment and got to ring the bell! We couldn’t be prouder of how healthy and energetic he is today! Go Laith!

On the third day of Christmas 🎁

Atrium Health Levine Children’s Offers First COVID-19 Vaccinations to Eligible Kids

Meet the First Kids Ages 5-11 Vaccinated at Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital

Atrium Health Levine Children’s Provides COVID-19 Vaccine to Local Teens

Atrium Health Levine Children’s is one of the first pediatric health systems in the nation to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents ages 12-15. In this video, watch and hear from some of the local teens and their families who were excited for this opportunity and what the shot means to them.

On the fourth day of Christmas 🕯️

Levine Children’s Patient Designs Charlotte Knights Jersey

During one of their home games this summer, the Charlotte Knights were wearing a unique looking jersey. Those jerseys were designed by a Levine Children’s patient, Chinya! The Knights not only wore Chinya’s jerseys, they also auctioned them off and raised $12,000 for our Arts For Life program! 

On the fifth day of Christmas 🦌

"Pick Me Up” Baskets Spark Joy for Cystic Fibrosis Patients at Levine Children’s Hospital

When a child with cystic fibrosis (CF) is admitted to the hospital, they could spend up to two weeks with us. In order to decrease boredom and improve patient experience, Andrea Westmoreland, a certified child life specialist at Levine Children’s Hospital, created the “pick me up” baskets! Learn more below about why Andrea created these baskets and how they mean so much to our kids.

What does the “pick me up” basket entail? These baskets are given to CF patients within the first 24 hours of admission. The baskets are filled with items they shared they enjoy on a questionnaire.

What inspired you to create these? During extended hospitalization, patients often become bored. I wanted them to share what they enjoy doing, things they would like to do while in the hospital and encourage them to request items that allow them to be more active in their room. Being active often improves lung function for CF patients.

Not only did we love this idea, the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) loved this idea too and will showcase it at their upcoming annual conference!

On the sixth day of Christmas🎅🏼

Neuroblastoma Clinical Trial Gives Two International Patients Another Chance at Life

We're excited to share the initial results of an FDA-sponsored clinical trial that’s giving families affected by high-risk neuroblastoma renewed hope. Led by Dr. Giselle Sholler, director of the Isabella Santos Foundation Solid and Rare Tumor Program at Atrium Health Levine Children’s, the trial is designed to prevent relapse and increase survival in children.

We’re happy to share the touching experiences of Thanos and Helena, 2 of our international patients. They are traveling to the U.S. to seek treatment for neuroblastoma at Levine Children’s because of Dr. Sholler’s reputation for excellence and advanced care.

Dr. Sholler clinical trial for neuroblastoma patients

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On the seventh day of Christmas 🍪

Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital Named a “Best Children’s Hospital” for 14th Consecutive Year

For the 14th consecutive year, Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital has been recognized as one of U.S. News & World Report’s best places to care for children. This year, the hospital is ranked among the top 50 in the country in eight pediatric specialties and remains the only children’s hospital in Charlotte to be given this prominent distinction.

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On the eighth day of Christmas ☃️

A New (and Surprising) Tool to Help Kids with IBS

A tiny device that fits behind the ear offers big pain relief to kids and teenagers with IBS.

Kids with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) deal with pain that keeps them from feeling and acting like kids. Now, a tiny device that fits behind the ear can alleviate IBS pain when nothing else works. Levine Children’s is the only hospital in Charlotte that offers this innovative tool, and it’s giving kids their childhoods back.

Read more

On the ninth day of Christmas 🔔

Baby Talia Fights Through Aggressive Brain Tumor with Nothing but Smiles

Say hello to Talia She has an aggressive brain tumor, but nothing stops her smile and spirit. 

Diagnosed with ETMR (embryonal tumor with mulitlayered rosettes) when she was just 1, Talia has had surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and is currently in the process of receiving three autologous stem cell rescues. Her brain tumor is treated with very high doses of chemotherapy, and then she’s given her own stem cells back to her in an infusion to help her bone marrow recover.

Our entire cellular therapies unit is HEPA-filtered and positive pressure, which means it’s a safe and clean space for patients like Talia with no or low immune systems. Patients don’t have to be strictly confined to their rooms, so she can walk around (masks on, of course) and be a kid! Her favorite things to do are ride in her stroller in the hallway, wave at everyone passing by and play in the playroom.

On the tenth day of Christmas 🤶🏼

Pediatric Heart, Kidney, and Transplant Teams Perform 5 Transplants in 5 Days – A Record!

Meet our 5 transplant warriors: 

  • Meet Erin! She was diagnosed with treatment resistant nephrotic syndrome at age 6 and received a happy, healthy kidney from a living donor – her dad, Eric. 
  • Meet Bellamee! Just 5 months old, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Now, she’s back to smiling and can’t wait to be back home with her siblings, who she hasn’t seen since she was just three weeks old. 
  • Meet Benjamin! He was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. He loves looking out the window at Jeeps, building Lego structures, and playing Mario Kart. 
  • Meet TJ! He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) which meant the left side of his heart didn’t fully develop. He loves baseball, math, reading, the color lime green and his German Shepherd, Tucker! 
  • Meet Jayda! She is a 7-month-old who was born with congenital heart disease and “smiles all the time,” according to her mom, Tasia. She is from Winston-Salem and is the youngest of 3 siblings. 

Levine Children’s Hospital – ranked as a Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report – has performed more than 250 kidney and heart transplants to-date! Congratulations to our pediatric transplant, kidney and heart teams on their transplant milestone, and thank you to the donors who gave the most selfless gift.

On the eleventh day of Christmas 🎶

Pediatric Emergency Department Teammates Give Back at Mass Vaccination Event

Monica Watts, RN, Levine Children‘s pediatric emergency department nurse manager, volunteered at Atrium Health’s first mass vaccination event at Charlotte Motor Speedway and quickly realized providing COVID-19 vaccines to eligible patients was just what her heart needed 

For months, Monica and her team have been on the front lines, caring for patients battling COVID-19. She says, “In the past year, I have watched our teams take care of some of the most critically ill children in our community with this horrible virus. We have cared for children with "tummy pain" who inevitably needed care for a broken heart because their loved ones passed away from this virus.” Now, there is a new sense of hope rising because of the vaccine. 

Monica’s mission was to bring back a group from the pediatric emergency department so they could be part of a life-changing event. It “filled her tank,” and wanted her team’s “tank” to be filled too. This weekend, her mission came true. 

“After all our team has gone through in the past year, experiencing some of the hardest days of our careers emotionally, for those 8 hours we were at the vaccine event, it was nothing but JOY. Every vaccine was a step toward this pandemic ending, and it was a shot of HOPE to so many. The tears of joy in the community members’ eyes, the gifts they gave, the stories of why they were there, were something we won't ever forget. There was more happiness in those hours than I have seen all year. The energy was palpable. Each of our teammates commented on how they needed this day and how much it meant to them. Some of the patients would say to us, "how can you all be so happy out here in this terrible weather?" I simply replied, "this is the happiest work we have done in over a year and a step closer to ending this pandemic for everyone. There is no greater joy." Being a part of the vaccination event truly filled each teammate’s “tank” and will have a lifelong impact.

And on the twelfth day of Christmas 🌟

NICU Cares for Some of the Tiniest Patients

Meet Everly! Everly was born on July 11 and came to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Levine Children’s Hospital weighing just 1 pound 6 ounces. Born at 24 weeks gestation – about 16 weeks early – she was very sick and had heart surgery in August to fix her little heart. 

Now almost 4 months old, Everly weighs over 5 pounds and is thriving! She can lift her head up during tummy time, loves to look around at everyone and is working on lowering her continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) that helps her breathe. 

Ande, Everly’s nurse, has been taking care of her since she arrived at our NICU. “She’s so special to me and has absolutely stolen my heart,” Ande says. “For Halloween this year, I knew she had to be Cinderella because she’s been a princess since day one!” Ande crocheted Everly’s Cinderella costume and it fit her and her personality perfectly, just like a glass slipper.