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Thriving in 2013: a year in review

  • Tripp Underwood
  • 12/31/2013 12:00:00 AM
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2013 was a year of varying emotion in Boston—from the tragedy of the marathon bombings to the elation of the first World Series victory at Fenway Park in nearly a century. And if the past 12 months have taught me anything, it's that learning to appreciate the good moments and figuring out how to stay strong during the challenging times are what truly define our strength of character.

It's an important life lesson, and one that stayed with me as I compiled the top Thriving stories of 2013. The following blogs document many of the great achievements our staff and patients experienced in 2013, as well as the courage they showed in the face of uncertainty. The care, bravery and willingness to do whatever it takes to help children get well found in these stories are the embodiment of what Boston Children's Hospital stands for. I'm proud to be able to share them with you on a daily basis.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

encephaloceleDominic Gundrum’s smile is truly special. Or, more accurately, there’s something really special about his smiles. They light up a room, even though they’re the result of a rare and extremely difficult to correct birth defect. Still, despite how atypical they seem at first, Dominic’s giggling smiles are surprisingly disarming. To have something look so different—but still spread such joy—is truly unique. And, in a way, that uniqueness defines Dominic perfectly.

Dominic's story was our most widely read blog of all time and even served as the inspiration for an episode of the hit TV show Grey's Anatomy!

Read Dominic's story.


Gabe is a video producer with his own digital media company. When his son Will needed five surgeries to repair his intestinal malrotation and volvulus—a complex blockage of the digestive tract—Gabe tried to film as much of the experience as he could. “I didn’t want to forget what it was like to be here at the hospital day in and day out, because that memory makes you that much more grateful to be at home when you finally get there," he says.

Read Will's story.


Boston Children's is renowned for its pediatric innovation, but when the hospital launched its Hand Transplant Program this year—the only pediatric program of its kind in the world—it caused quite a stir. Many people within the transplant community, and the medical community at large, are excited about what the future may hold for this new, evolving treatment option.

Read a profile of the surgeon who made it all possible.


This year marked the 75 anniversary of the first surgery to correct a congenital heart defect, which was performed at Boston Children's on a then 7-year-old Lorraine Sweeney. And while the operation was a medical and surgical milestone, it also caused a great deal of controversy within the institution and even resulted in the pioneering surgeon being fired, only to be rehired and eventually made surgeon-in-chief.

Read about this medical milestone and the controversy it caused at the time.

William St. George was born with a serious heart condition and underwent several surgeries in his young life. But an exciting and relatively new procedure performed at Boston Children's gave William a novel, modified heart valve that expands as he grows—sparing him from future surgeries to replace the valve as he grows up.

Read William’s story.


Portrait of Claire McCarthyDr. Claire is sick and tired of the stay-at-home vs. working mom debate. So, when a Huffington Post blog on the topic went viral this year, she wrote a controversial response asking mothers to stop talking about motherhood as if it were a competition and instead focus on what we as a society can do to help all children and families.

Read Dr. Claire's take on this touchy subject.


Peanut allergies are among the most rapidly growing (and potentially deadly) food allergies in the U.S. There is currently no cure, but could a new treatment protocol from Boston Children's be the next best thing? Research is still being done, but initial studies are positive.

Learn about exciting new Boston Children's research that aims to make peanut allergies more manageable for families.


Daredevil skier Julia Marino is heading to the Winter Olympics in a few months. Being named an Olympian is an amazing feat for any athlete, but even more so for Julia, who just a few years ago suffered what could have been a career-ending ACL tear. Thanks to the work of Boston Children's Female Athlete Program, Julia received the treatment and rehab she needed, and instead of watching the Games from home, she'll be competing in Sochi come February.

Read Julia's story.


All of us at Boston Children's Hospital were deeply saddened by the horrifying events that marred the Boston Marathon. Despite the pain we felt for the victims and their families, including families we treated, we also were inspired by the speed and selflessness displayed by the Boston Children's community, both that day, and in the following weeks.   <

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The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO