Posted December 17, 2010
Will Santa Still Find Me at the Hospital?

Brooke Martin, like every child, looked forward to the holidays with great anticipation. But in December of 2008, instead of wondering if she would receive the doll and carriage on her Christmas wish list, she was worried Santa wouldn't find her at all!

Brooke had already fought leukemia... chemotherapy, radiation and a relapse. Now, five-year old Brooke was about to receive the most important gift of her young life - new bone marrow from a donor cord blood transplant.

That life-saving procedure, however, also meant she would be in an isolation room for the next 90 days and couldn't be home for the holidays. So, with blankets laid out and a parent on either side of her hospital room window, Brooke opened her gifts from Santa. It was as close as they could get to each other that holiday season.

Months of treatments and a fungal infection on her organs had taken a toll on her tiny body, plus high fevers extended her time in the pediatric intensive care unit. More than once, her parents thought they'd lost their little girl. But Brooke fought her way through to December 9 - transplant day!

Her parents placed all their hopes in the hands of her doctors and the gift of bone marrow from a stranger to save her life. We're happy to report that Brooke is doing well and will be home for the holidays this year!

Smiles and laughter are important to the healing process, especially for children. On the good days when she was feeling better, challenging her doctor to a game of Wii tennis gave everyone a reason to smile! As Brooke's mom, Tiffany, said, "After you see all the terrible things they have to go through trying to get well, every little thing that makes them smile is worth it!"

Each year, young patients just like Brooke - fighting for their lives - spend their holidays at All Children's Hospital and miss out on their favorite holiday traditions.

Our hope this holiday season is, of course, to have our halls empty and every child snuggled in their own beds without wondering if Santa will find them or worrying about being sick, but that isn't likely to be the case.

Your online donation helps us do the "little things" to bring a smile to our kids during these difficult times. For Brooke, making crafts and cookies in an Easy Bake Oven and decorating her room with a miniature tree helped pass the time in the hospital. Playing games with Kristin, her Child Life Specialist and "big sister" made getting through each procedure a bit easier.

Though she can't attend regular school just yet, her doctors are allowing her to take her first ballet class. She's beyond excited and is looking forward to a pair of ballerina slippers under the tree at home this year!

Thank you from Brooke, her family, and all of us at All Children's Hospital for giving the "little things" that make such a very big difference to sick children.