Eight-year-old Jadelyn Pang travels a long way to visit Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. In fact, Jadelyn and her family come all the way from Waikele, Hawaii – 4,243 miles away – for follow-ups for her life-saving liver surgery.
Jadelyn was diagnosed with portal vein hypertension in September 2011 at a Honolulu children’s hospital, where she was rushed after throwing up blood. A clot was blocking normal blood flow in Jadelyn’s portal vein, which supplies the liver with much of its blood and oxygen. She would need a surgical procedure called a Rex Shunt to bypass the blocked vein and restore blood flow to the organ. Unfortunately, there were no pediatric surgeons in Hawaii experienced in performing the procedure.
A surgeon at the hospital recommended that the Pang family contact Lurie Children’s in Chicago, where surgeon Riccardo Superina, MD, Head, Transplant Surgery and Co-director of the Siragusa Transplantation Center, is an internationally recognized expert in the procedure. The hospital was the first in North America to use this novel surgical technique, and since 1997 more than 85 Rex Shunt procedures have been performed at Lurie Children’s, with a success rate of 90 percent. Jadelyn’s mom, Janel, says she visited the Lurie Children’s website to learn more, and even watched a video of Dr. Superina and his team performing a Rex Shunt procedure before making an appointment.
In January 2012, the Pang family traveled from tropical Hawaii to frosty Chicago for the five-hour surgery with Dr. Superina, who is also the Robert E. Schneider Chair in Transplantation.
“I was scared the day of surgery,” says Janel. “But every hour someone called us from the operating room to let us know how things were going. Afterwards, Dr. Superina came to talk to us and assured us that everything went fine. That was very comforting.”
Less than a week later, Jadelyn was discharged, although the family remained in Chicago for six weeks until she was healthy enough to return home. The Pangs return to Chicago several times a year for Jadelyn’s follow-ups.
Janel reports that Jadelyn is doing well. Where previously Jadelyn had been unable to even participate in physical education class, she spent much of last summer playing volleyball and riding her bike. She returned to Chicago in August for her first follow-up appointment at the new Lurie Children’s, which opened on June 9.
“As soon as we walked into the lobby, Jadelyn pointed up at the ceiling said, ‘Wow, mommy – look at the whales!’ says Janel, of the mother and child whale sculptures suspended from the ceiling in the Pritzker Family Lobby. “I’m so glad we found Lurie Children’s, where she could have the surgery she needed. The hospital is so well-equipped, has wonderful doctors and nurses and is so kid-friendly. I wish we had a hospital like this at home!”
To show their gratitude for the care Jadelyn received, the Pang family made a gift to the Give Kids a Hand program, and will have their name included on a tile in the colorful mosaic mural, which will be displayed on the hospital’s first floor.