Families Share How Network Doctors Have Made a Difference in Their Lives

Doctors and nurses

Since its inception 10 years ago, the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health care network has had over 2.3 million patient visits, and physicians have treated over 100K patients each year. But no matter how many patients they see, the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health practitioners strive to provide each family with exceptional care. Bearing witness to that comprehensive and personalized support are four families whose lives have been touched by the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health network physicians.

Concierge-level OB/GYN services

As an ICU nurse, Katie Husak knows a lot about what to expect from a health care provider. So, when she started seeing Jagdip Powar, MD, an obstetrician with Stanford Medicine Women’s Health – Palo Alto, she knew she had found someone special. The OB/GYN practice, led by Dr. Powar, joined the network in 2012.

“I’ve worked in the ICU for years, so I’ve dealt with a lot of doctors and bedside manners. Coming from that experience, I can speak to the fact that Dr. Powar is one of the best,” she shared. “He makes you feel like you are his only patient—he’s present; you don’t feel rushed. He allows you to ask your questions, and I think that’s how he builds that sense of trust with his patients. I always feel like he’s invested in me and my long-term health when I’m there … and I always had this certainty that he would be able to get me through whatever happened.”

Katie and her husband, Todd Husak, have a deep connection with Stanford; Todd played college football for Stanford University and received his master’s degree there. He also coached for many years and is currently a commentator for Stanford football. So, when it came time to choose a hospital for the birth of their third child, they knew Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford was the best fit for them.

“We’re very fortunate to have Stanford in our backyard. There’s confidence in being part of the Stanford family, knowing that they have the facilities to take care of me and my child,” Katie said. “I know giving birth happens all the time, but in my profession, you see the one-in-a-million things: You see the woman who has a headache and it’s a brain tumor, and that sticks with you. So, I want to have the best resources and doctors available, and that’s at Stanford … there’s a confidence being treated at Stanford that’s unlike anywhere else for me.”

Teamwork saves baby with botulism

Patients can access world-class care close to home through the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health care network and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. For little Emmett Welden-Smith, it meant surviving a rare and potentially fatal case of botulism.

When he was only 4 months old, Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth, noticed that something was off and brought him to pediatrician Sara Liu, MD, at the Pediatric Group of Monterey, a practice that is part of the network. Between Dr. Liu, a trip to the local emergency department, and fellow pediatrician Kirk Mulgrew, MD, a diagnosis of botulism was suspected. When the diagnosis was confirmed, Emmett was airlifted to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

The quick action of the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health physicians was crucial not only to saving Emmett’s life but also to preventing him from suffering serious long-term effects from the toxin, according to Mark Welden-Smith, Emmett’s father.

“Thank God Dr. Mulgrew was insistent, because the longer you wait, the longer the recovery period can be, and the higher the risk of mortality due to respiratory failure. Even one extra day could have meant months longer recovery for the nerve endings to rebuild. It was just incredible—everybody made the right call at the right time,” Mark said.

Mom Elizabeth is grateful that her son was able to make a full recovery. She credits the overwhelming support of the network physicians and staff with helping her and her family through the ordeal. “Dr. Mulgrew literally saved my child’s life. He advocated for us, as did Dr. Liu. We weren’t treated like we were crazy. We were supported, and I knew that people were looking out for us and making sure that Emmett got the best care possible,” she said.

Coordinated care gives child with kidney disease a second chance

Reagan Sterling’s journey with chronic kidney disease began when she was just 7 years old. Since then, her team of Stanford Medicine Children’s Health physicians have worked together to help her live her best life despite a serious kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).

Her doctors were able to manage her disease with dietary changes, corticosteroids, and drugs to suppress the immune system for many years, but the damage to her kidneys was permanent. Eventually the disease progressed, and Reagan needed to have a nephrectomy to remove her kidneys.

Losing her kidneys meant Reagan had to undergo dialysis, where a machine cleans the blood, until she could receive donor organs. Fortunately, her doctor, Elizabeth Talley, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s Specialty Services – Emeryville location, was able to offer an option to allow Reagan to have the dialysis done at home instead of needing to go to a clinic several times a week.

After being on the transplant list for about a year, Reagan was able to get a kidney transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, one of the largest pediatric kidney transplant centers in the country. “The transplant process was pretty smooth. The doctors at Stanford made everything seem pretty relaxed, easy, and simple,” Reagan said. “After I got the transplant, everything felt good, and I finally felt more at ease with my situation and everything.”

Reagan’s mother, Andrea Sterling, believes the support of the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health team made all the difference when it came to dealing with her daughter’s condition. “I can’t say enough about how great Stanford has been throughout this entire process,” she said. “Everyone is just so helpful and so nice and supportive in making sure that we had what we needed as a family to deal with what was happening with Reagan.”

Now, Reagan is a happy college student and enjoying a fresh start with healthy kidneys. With the support of her family and the doctors at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, she proves that it is possible to truly live well with kidney disease.

Family finds a solution for newborn’s tongue tie

When 4-day-old Kyle Awasthi was diagnosed with a severe tongue-tie that made breastfeeding difficult, his parents, Birute and Asheet Awasthi, wanted to find a doctor they could really trust with their new baby. After searching, the family found Bryan Drucker, MD, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates – Samaritan Drive.

The Stanford reputation for excellence gave Kyle’s parents confidence that they had found the right place to get care for their precious baby. “I saw the words from Dr. Bryan Drucker [on his web profile]: ‘Ultimately, I’m a child’s advocate, and I have their best interest at heart.’ At that moment, I knew that I had come to the right place,” Asheet said.

“He is truly a ‘child’s advocate.’ … We are simply blessed that we found him in the nick of time. … And sure enough, he saved our baby’s torment by hand-holding us through a diligent diagnosis and guiding us in the right direction.”

Dr. Drucker was able to put the family at ease and connect them with Iram Ahmad, MD, a respiratory and ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist within the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health network. Dr. Ahmad was able to correct the tongue-tie and encourage the family through Kyle’s recovery.

Working with the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health team helped the family realize that problems like these were common and solvable with the right support.

“You go into motherhood with set expectations, certain pictures of how you’re going to feed the baby. … We just assumed it just works magically for everybody,” said Birute. “You learn that most people struggle. But you go in thinking, ‘Oh, it’s just for me that doesn’t work.’ … Stanford helped us to get a realistic picture … and you adjust your expectations to reality.

“So that’s one thing I think that was super helpful and comforting, as a mom. That is a part of the Stanford experience that we’ve had that we’re appreciating a lot.”

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