Posts Tagged ‘Pediatrics’

Jacob Harpel’s Thanksgiving Story

November 25, 2010

Eight-year-old Jacob Harpel from Glencoe, Minn., was diagnosed with a plum-sized brain tumor the day before Thanksgiving last year. He had aggressive brain surgery at Mayo Clinic in August to remove the tumor; with the surgery he had a 50% chance of losing his peripheral vision on one side and a 50% chance of speech and comprehension deficits. Within 24 hours of the surgery, Jacob was playing the piano at Saint Marys Hospital, and just three days later he went home tumor-free.

This week, exactly a year from the initial diagnosis, Jacob had follow-up appointments at Mayo Clinic — he’s still tumor-free, his vision is 20/20 including peripheral vision, he has no speech or comprehension deficits and he’s seizure-free. It’s quite a different Thanksgiving for the whole Harpel family.

View the videos below to hear the Harpel family tell their story, including their description of playing “Just Dance” on the Wii during Jacob’s video EEG, Jacob saying that the surgery was easy, “I just slept the whole time,” and the support of their family and friends. And as for their Mayo Clinic physicians? Jacob says about Dr. Nicholas Wetjen, his pediatric neurosurgeon – “I LOVE that man!”

Hayley’s POTS Story: Getting Answers at Mayo Clinic

February 23, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following was written by Christine Lairmore of Lake Arrowhead, California.

Hayley Lairmore with Shadow

When our daughter, Hayley, turned 14 on March 8, 2009, we took her to Disneyland to celebrate. After a day full of riding rides and eating junk food, she woke up vomiting and kept vomiting all night long and all the next day. Our previously healthy daughter never stopped vomiting after that day, sometimes vomiting up to 12 times daily. Severe abdominal pain followed about a week later. I started by taking her to her regular pediatrician, who thought it was a flu and advised minimal eating, increase fluids, etc… just wait it out. It never got any better.

Update: Read more about Hayley’s story on, and see videos of Mrs. Lairmore telling the story of their journey on the Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel.

Watching our daughter suffering and not getting better, we took her to our local ER, fearing dehydration or something more serious. They ran some tests, suspecting food allergies (mainly Celiac Disease), did some x-rays of her abdomen, and ultimately sent us home with a prescription for Zantac. Days later, the blood test came back positive for Celiac Disease. We promptly put her on a gluten free diet, but there was no improvement to her condition.

Next we sought help through a G.I. specialist at Loma Linda Medical Center. He at first thought she was just constipated and prescribed a treatment plan for that. When she continued to worsen over the next week, he then performed an endoscopy – which showed mild gastritis and duodenitis and, more importantly, it ruled out Celiac disease. However, this doctor kept saying she was fine, nothing was wrong, and there was no more testing or medicine he could do. I told him her pain was worsening, she was still vomiting 8-10 times daily, she doubles over from her abdominal pain, she complains of dizziness, begs and cries for help, and I am at my wits end. They prescribe Miralax for constipation, which gives her bowel accidents she can’t control, and at age 14 she has to wear a diaper during long car rides. I have to literally beg the doctor, against his wishes, to perform a colonoscopy because she is still in so much pain and I fear we are missing something important. The doctor still has no answers and continues to say that the pain is “all in her head.”

Grateful Family Says Mayo Clinic Care and Ketogenic Diet Brought Their Son Back To Them

November 2, 2009

Less than a year ago, four-year-old Max Irvine was having hundreds of seizures a day … he couldn’t walk, talk or chew his food. A previously healthy and active preschooler, Max has epilepsy. The Irvines were told by one epilepsy specialist that their son would become mentally incompetent from his seizures. Thankfully, they refused to believe this devastating news.

Under the guidance of Mayo Clinic pediatric neurologist Elaine Wirrell, M.D., the Irvines say they experienced a miracle. They took Max off all his epilepsy medications and relied on the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-protein, non-carbohydrate diet, to inhibit his seizures. The day he took his last pill, he started to walk again — that evening he began talking again — and he hasn’t had another seizure since.

In the video below, Max’s parents, Troy and Kristine Irvine, tell their Mayo Clinic story.

Please note: If the ketogenic diet is effective, some, but not all, children may be safely weaned from their medications. This decision must be discussed with a neurologist prior to any attempt to withdraw medication.

This story was submitted by Elizabeth Rice, Mayo Clinic in Rochester communications consultant in Public Affairs.

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“We plan to continue to use the Mayo Clinic, no matter where in the country we live”

September 30, 2009

Every physician Anne Stohrer and her son turned to for treatment of his chronic knee and hip pain came-up with a non-diagnosis. Many frustrating years passed while they fought to find a care plan that would relieve his pain and allow him to be the young, active boy he wanted to be. As the years passed, Anne found herself at the end of her rope and sought out the center of excellence for knee and hip related issues. Suggestions to Mayo Clinic came rolling in, so she picked up the phone and called. Upon arrival in Rochester, Minn., both Anne and her son were amazed at the level of coordinated, compassionate and patient centered care he received from the team led by Dr. Thomas Mason. Three days after arriving at Mayo, Anne and her son left with a diagnosis, a comprehensive care plan, and peace of mind.

Anne is an OB-GYN physician from Vermont, and her experience with Mayo Clinic changed the way she viewed health care. As a result she decided to seek out her own care at Mayo. She enrolled in the Executive Health program and is back at home in Vermont with her own comprehensive care plan. Anne will tell anyone who cares to listen that she and her family will continue to use Mayo Clinic, “no matter where in the country we live.”

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