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Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Healthwatch Spring 2009

Unique Leukemia Treatment Saves Infant

Grateful Family Thanks Medical Team and Community

Inspired by her daughter's bout with cancer, a Plantation woman is transitioning out of her 23-year career in the airline industry and going back to school to become a nurse.

Diagnosed at the age of 3 months, Liz's only child, Rachel, was treated at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. With intensive chemotherapy, spinal taps and dozens of transfusions, she became cancer-free and strong enough to resume a normal life.

"The thought that my precious baby might never be able to play with other children, swim in the ocean or even live was indescribable," says Liz, who studies nursing while Rachel, now 2, attends daycare.

"One of the major challenges in treating Rachel was her age," says Deborah Kramer, MD, a pediatric oncologist on the medical staffs of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar.

Rachel's diagnosis was T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a type of leukemia very rarely seen in 3-month-olds. Therefore the standard treatment protocols weren't an exact match.

Unique Lifesaving Treatment

Fortunately, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital has access to the latest advances in treatment and cancer control protocols through the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the world's largest childhood cancer research organization. Dr. Kramer and other members of the Joe DiMaggio team consulted with one another and with COG to develop a unique treatment plan for Rachel – and it was a resounding success.

Liz and her husband, Eddie, weighed the recommendations of friends and family before choosing Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for Rachel's care.

Deborah Kramer, MD

Deborah Kramer, MD

"Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's incredible team provides the very best medical care and family support," Liz says. "It is one of the top-rated hospitals in the nation."

Liz also credits the generous people of South Florida for their part in Rachel's recovery.

"There were so many blood drives – a whole community pitched in to save my baby," says Liz, who became a registered bone marrow donor to help other patients in need.

Other people provided financial support to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundation to help care for Rachel and other critically ill children. One donor even pledged $50,000 to the hospital after hearing about the severity of Rachel's case.

"The staff is amazing," Liz says. "They made sure we always felt as if we were in a home away from home. We were exactly right to choose Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for Rachel's treatment."

To find a Memorial physician who is committed to patient- and family-centered care, call Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Physician Referral Service toll-free at (866) JDCH-DOC. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.