When you're a frequent patient at a hospital, you know what it feels like to be poked and prodded, experience fatigue, side effects of treatments, and the sometimes the lonely isolation of a long-term hospital stay. 

When you're a patient at a children’s hospital, you know how equally important it is to tend to both the emotional and physical needs of patients. That's why a group of teens in Temple, Texas are focused on providing comfort to other patients.  

These teens, ranging in age from 14 to 19, are either current patients or siblings of current patients at Baylor Scott & White Children’s Medical Center. Most have acute and long-term illnesses, ranging from cancer to Crohn’s disease; and they have a desire to help other patients with their emotional and physical needs while at the hospital.

Drawing from their patient experiences, the teens work with Child Life staff at the hospital to create a positive and healing environment.

Rey
Take, for example, Rey. After experiencing severe muscle pain every day after weight lifting at school, local pediatricians thought he was experiencing growing pains. After he developed a rash called petechiae, he was sent to McLane Children’s Hospital for blood work and a bone marrow biopsy. He was then diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 13.

“Upon diagnosis, our family went immediately in to ‘fix it’ mode. Our motto was ‘Leukemia? Aint nobody got time for that!’ and even though we knew there was a long fight ahead, it was not going to get us down,” said Vivian, Reymond’s mother.

Reymond fought his battle very hard during the course of his treatment. He underwent countless blood and platelet transfusions, week long hospitalizations due to chemotherapy rounds, bone marrow biopsies and lumbar punctures.

Uno

On April 30, Reymond officially ended treatment and is now considered in remission for life. He spends his free time as a corporal with the MCJROTC; band captain and section leader for the Belton Drum Line. He also spends his time as co-president of the Teen Advisory Board.

The teens meet monthly, helping shape hospital programs and social activities that keep kids having fun while in the hospital. They improve the patient experience by providing feedback to the hospital on how to make it more child and teen friendly; such as painting bright murals on the walls of the hospital, improving the treatment room to add more distractions, and designing the teen lounge to be a teen-friendly place for patients to make friends.  

Most importantly, through the urging of Teen Advisory Board member Christien Quiles, and continuing in his legacy, the teens have created fundraisers that have helped the hospital purchase new and life-saving equipment that meet the physical comfort of other patients.

Teens

After raising over $26,000 in 2016, the teens were able to help the hospital purchase a Blanketrol and Vein Viewer for the hospital. The Blanketrol is used to help cool down NICU patients and help save brain tissue. Vein illuminators are used to help staff reduce the number of stick attempts, keeping patients comfortable.

“The first thing they raised money for was something to help take care of our youngest patients, and so they’re clearly not thinking of themselves,” says Leah Woodward, child life specialist at Baylor Scott and White Children’s Medical Center.

The teen advisory board continues to push forward to be unsung heroes for other patients. This year, they are trying to raise another $30,000.00 to purchase an Osmometer for the lab, a Bronch & Mini Telescope and a Defibrillator.

Teens Mural

“It is remarkable to see a group of patients who have every right to focus on themselves choose to focus on how they can improve the lives of others around them,” said John Lauck, president and CEO, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “They are an inspiration to everyone and define what it means to be unsung heroes.”