Elizabeth found the care she needed
Two weeks after her daughter Elizabeth was born, Ganiat received a letter in the mail stating that her newborn was a potential carrier of a sickle cell gene. Shortly after Ganiat took her new baby for required testing, doctors diagnosed Elizabeth with sickle cell disease.
"My world changed at that time," Ganiat said. "I devoted all of my time to her and finding things we could do."
When Elizabeth was young, her family lived in Chicago. Ganiat developed a strong bond with Elizabeth's team of caregivers and trusted them to care for her child's fragile condition. Ganiat was devastated to leave the team when the family moved to Texas, and knew she needed to find the same type of relationship near their new home. She found exactly what she was looking for when she met Donald Beam, M.D., medical director, Cook Children's Hematology and Oncology Center.
"We were looking for that special, comfortable ‘at-home' type of treatment," Ganiat said. "I don't even remember how we found Dr. Beam, but it seems like it was love at first sight for Elizabeth. I've never seen a kid more excited about going to a doctor's office. She felt at home."
Now a teenager, Elizabeth is mature for her age and full of personality. Her humor and sharp wit make her a joy to be around, and she loves interacting with her team of caregivers.
"Don't tell Dr. Beam that I said this, but he's a really good doctor," Elizabeth said with a grin. "I remember that I really enjoyed going to the clinic when I was younger. I'm an only child, so the only social interaction I get at home is my mom and the wall. When I go to the doctor's office, I have all these people [to talk to]. The age difference between us is vast, but the chemistry between us is so tight-knit. I think it's great."
The family's bond with our staff became even stronger when Elizabeth became gravely ill during a trip to Walt Disney World®.
"Many people would have just gone to the nearest hospital in Florida, but not us. We were coming back to Texas," Ganiat said. "We needed to be with Dr. Beam and the rest of the team at Cook Children's. I think that was the best choice we could have made."
Elizabeth developed acute chest syndrome, and within a few hours, she was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Cook Children's. Ganiat wasn't sure her daughter would survive, but after 30 days in the PICU, Elizabeth's condition improved enough to return home. Ganiat credits the team at Cook Children's with saving her daughter's life.
Now, Elizabeth and Ganiat continue to work with Dr. Beam and the entire hematology team to keep Elizabeth healthy and out of the hospital. As she approaches adulthood, her team of caregivers teaches her how to manage her own care and to keep fighting.
"There's just something about having these people at Cook Children's that can really brighten your experience. You think that all is lost and you don't want to keep going, but there's a reason that I'm fighting," said Elizabeth.
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