The good news for a 13-year-old with a brain tumor is that, while his illness will remain a part of his life, chemotherapy has reduced the tumor's size considerably and he'll see much less of the hospital. A 6-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy isn't so lucky, however. And treatments haven't worked for a 4-year-old epileptic (though he might simply outgrow it). But all are resilient. Says oncologist Stewart Goldman: "That's one of the most inspiring things."
An infant and a Greek teenager both have congenital heart defects---and government support. But a 3-year-old needs three stem-cell transplants and his parents' insurance will cover just one. And undocumented Mexican-born teen with leukemia also needs a transplant, but Medicaid won't pay for it because it's not an "emergency." Then there's a 9-year-old with cancer. Her mother's estimate of the cost of her care: $4 million.
“Society” (Part 4) follows children as they pay the price for inner-city social woes. ER social worker Gail Brodkey investigates several cases of suspected child abuse. And in the neonatal ICU, Dr. Jimmy Collins counsels teen parents about their daughter, a preemie who must spend two months in intensive care. Also: a girl with brain damage whose mother suffered a ruptured uterus. Elsewhere at Children's Memorial, a 10-year-old who was born with AIDS also has kidney failure and needs a transplant. Sherry Stringfield narrates.
“Pioneers” (Part 3) follows staffers at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital as they use new techniques and therapies. Two children receive grafts of a “cultured skin product.” One is a boy who was struck by a lawnmower; the other is a girl with a horribly disfiguring mole on her left arm. A nonsurgical therapy called “serial casting” helps children with cerebral palsy walk. A new drug improves bloodflow to an infant's lungs. And a finely targeted form of radiation known as Intrabeam might help a 14-year-old girl who has had four brain-tumor operations in five years. Sherry Stringfield narrates.
“The Detectives” (Part 2 of six) follows staffers as they try to figure out what's ailing youngsters who arrive at the ER of Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital. “The quicker the clues to illnesses are found,” says narrator Sherry Stringfield, “the quicker treatment can start.” Some cases (a boy hit near the eye with a BB) are easier to diagnose than others---one girl is having hallucinations and a boy has been behaving strangely since he had his appendix taken out and is almost uncontrollable. Doctors don't think the cause is psychiatric, though. They think something's physically wrong.
“Decisions,” Part 1 of a six-part series following patients and staff at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, monitors the cases of three very sick youngsters. Allison, 11, has a brain tumor, and Dr. Stewart Goldman must decide whether to continue chemotherapy. The others have diseased livers. Ten-month-old Christian needs a transplant; the problem is finding a liver. Quantell, 11, has already had one, but his new liver has become, as he puts it, “yucky.” His doctors (and his mother) must weigh the risks and benefits of a second transplant. Sherry Stringfield narrates.