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Celebrate National Donate Life Month by joining marrow registry

April is Donate Life Month, so celebrate it by joining the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match Registry.  According to the NMDP, thousands of people with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases are denied life-saving blood stem cell transplants—commonly known as bone marrow transplants—because they cannot find donors who genetically match. As many as 70% of patients in need of a transplant do not have a family member who is genetically compatible to serve as a donor—and the need is even more acute among minority populations.

That’s where the Be the Match Registry comes in. Potential donors complete a questionnaire and have their cheeks swabbed or blood drawn to obtain information about their genetic compatibility. The registry maintains records about potential donors and notifies them if a patient in need matches. Continue reading

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Looking deeper, learning more

Samantha Provenzano visits with Big Bird inside the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital eight months after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Doctors evaluating then-6-year-old Samantha’s hearing problems found something else – a tumor in her brain.  Now she’s back on track after surgery, finishing first grade this spring and sporting a colorful set of hearing aids.

Like most 7-year-olds, Samantha Provenzano is always on the move.

She loves rollerblading, riding her bike, playing baseball and practicing Tae Kwon Do with her younger sister, Gabriella.

Anyone meeting the Livonia first grader may find it hard to believe that about a year ago, surgeons at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital removed a tumor from her brain. Continue reading

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Can a genetic test predict your child’s success in athletics?

Genetic testing is not a new concept for many people.  From predicting disease risk to determining whether a person is a carrier of a specific gene, genetic testing is an important part of healthcare.  More and more, though, genetic testing is also being used for other things.

Dr. Beth Tarini, a pediatrician at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, recently published a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) about some of the issues surrounding genetic testing to predict athletic performance in children.

What are these tests, and what is Dr. Tarini’s message to parents considering this type of genetic test for their child?  Watch the video below to find out!

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What parents should know about the new car seat guidelines

My daughter had just turned 1 when I spent a month working on the trauma service during my Pediatric Emergency Medicine fellowship.  She was not yet 20 pounds so I still had her in a rear-facing car seat.  I asked one of the head trauma surgeons when he would recommend I turn my daughter around so she was facing forward in the car.  His response surprised me.  He said, “If I could, I would ride rear-facing in a 5-point harness.”

Thinking about it some, it makes sense.  If you are in a front end crash, your car comes to a stop and you keep moving forward until you come in contact with your seat belt.  If you are not wearing a seat belt you will stop against the interior of the car, or worse yet something outside of the vehicle.  When children are riding in a rear-facing seat, the force of stopping in a crash is spread out over the whole surface of their back – not just the points where their body contacts the straps.

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Gamers Outreach brings their ‘A’ game to Mott

Video game charity donates two gaming systems, carts to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital patient Kyle Sexton plays a video game using one of the Gamers Outreach Foundation's GO Karts. It was Kyle's first time using the Go Kart.

Kyle Nicholson escapes from his seventh floor room in the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital through an Xbox.

Nicholson, of Shelby Township, Mich., is battling leukemia and has been at Mott for about four weeks. He says the video game system recently stationed in his room – along with his favorite game, “Madden NFL 11,” – helps him pass the time.

“The screen is very nice,” he says. “It gives me something to do instead of just watch TV all day.”

The Xbox helping to take Nicholson’s mind off of treatment is located on one of two portable video game kiosks donated to Mott by the Gamers Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit charity organization that uses video games to help others.

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A fighter by the name of “Victor”

In dire circumstances, an extraordinary option for Victor and his family.

Valerie Munguia-Bryan and Mario Bryan knew for months that one of their twin babies would be born with a devastating congenital defect. But they refused to give up hope.

The Saginaw, Michigan, couple was referred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital by their hometown physician because of U-M’s expertise in repairing difficult congenital defects and for heart-lung support technology known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. Doctors expected the couple’s newborn would need to be placed on ECMO to be kept alive from birth and through surgery to repair the defect. Continue reading