Hannah likes listening to music, playing with her cat, and spending time with her parents, her three siblings, and her friends at school. But she also spends a lot of time these days at physical therapy and doctor visits.
Hannah was a healthy teen until she developed immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) at age 16. ITP is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies damaged the platelets in her body. This led to bleeding in her brain, which led to a stroke. Hannah survived, but it was scary, says her dad, Ryan. “If it wasn’t for neurosurgeon Dr. Tyler Frizzell and his team who operated on Hannah, and the skilled care when she was in critical condition, I don’t think she would have made it through the first night.”
Hannah spent 2½ months at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, most of it in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). “We sat in the PICU day and night for two months hoping our daughter would make it, and I took great comfort knowing that we had the best tools, the best equipment, and the best people working around the clock to help save Hannah. They made us feel comfortable through the worst days of our lives.”
Her parents also appreciated how closely all of the different specialties worked together: PICU staff, neurosurgeons, hematologists, infectious disease specialists, nephrologists, and many more. “As chaotic as life was while we were there,” Ryan says, “having everyone working together made our difficult situation manageable.”
Hannah has made miraculous progress. She has a big heart and wisdom beyond her years. During inpatient rehabilitation, she was like a big sister to other kids on the unit. “She was going through the most traumatic experience in her life but still encouraged others,” says her dad, Ryan. “When she could get out of the hospital from time to time, she would bring things back for other kids who couldn’t leave. I never heard her complain through it all.”