Your gifts help the world's sickest children thrive


Your gifts help the world's sickest children thrive

see their stories

See the lifesaving care, kindness and breakthroughs,
made possible by your generosity


Long hospital stays, multiple surgeries and weekly infusions can take a toll on a family. But 15-year-old Bella and her family have found comfort, warmth and even laughter during Bella’s regular visits to Boston Children’s.

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When Teddy was born, it was clear that something was very wrong. Unable to breathe, he was placed on a ventilator, but his condition rapidly deteriorated. Teddy was transported by air ambulance from New York to Boston Children’s.

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Family rituals can bring comfort and healing. But long hospital stays make it difficult to maintain the special traditions and routines that children crave.

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Most newborns herald their arrival into the world with a hearty yell. But premature babies, especially the tiniest, often come in with a whimper.

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In the seven years since he became a Boston Children’s patient, Emmett, who is now 9 and diagnosed with autism, has blossomed from nonverbal to moderately conversant—reading, doing simple math and enjoying so much of his life.

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There’s no place like home. This is especially true for families like Lucy’s, who’ve spent months in the hospital caring for a medically complex child.

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Despite a family history of the disease, Joel’s first asthma attack took his mother Ellis by surprise. When Joel was 2, the family was visiting a friend’s home where one of the residents was a smoker. Before long, Ellis knew something was wrong.

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Having a child with congenital heart disease can turn a parent's world upside down. Dreams of all the firsts their child will accomplish become worries of whether they’ll be healthy enough to live a normal life.

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Sometimes, parents must leave everything—their jobs, family and healthy children—to save the life of their sick child. You help ease their burden every step of the way. Your support means everything.

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See the lifesaving care, kindness and breakthroughs, made possible by your generosity

you give hope

Some families must leave everything: their homes, jobs, and other children, to find a cure for their sick child. Here's how you helped in 2019.

Girl Girl Girl


parking vouchers


requests for help advice and resources


families sheltered


items from the emergency clothing closet


cups of coffee


laundry cards

“Knowing we have a place to stay, hot water, electricity, the internet…
They help you get through the hardest times of your life.”

—Jodi, a mom from New York

You comfort. You heal. You impact.

These families found hope and answers as they battled childhood diseases—many of them deadly.

You met Incredible Teddy, whose family came to Boston Children’s when they had nowhere else to turn. And you saw Gabby’s million-watt smile, thanks to the care that changed her life. You found out why Lucy now breathes easy at home, how Emmett can find his cozy spot and what inspires Bella to walk.

Each story shows the life-saving care, kindness and breakthroughs that happen because of donors like you. Thanks to your support, Boston Children’s has cured more childhood diseases than any other hospital and shared those answers with the world. And we are on the brink of more breakthroughs in sickle cell, epilepsy, cancer and many rare diseases.

Together, we can ease suffering, restore families and find more answers. For all you do, thank you,

Sandra L. Fenwick CEO Boston Children’s Hospital

Sandra L. Fenwick
Boston Children’s Hospital
Sandra L. Fenwick CEO Boston Children’s Hospital

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Bella asks the same question nearly every visit: “Are the dogs coming by?”

Diagnosed as a toddler with Morquio syndrome, a rare, progressive condition characterized by abnormal bone and spine development, Bella sees a team of specialists and caregivers at Boston Children’s.

In addition to reshaping Bella’s bones, her orthopedic surgeon, Lawrence Karlin, MD, has shaped Bella’s outlook toward her uncertain future. Their appointments begin with banter and almost always include hugs and smiles as well as guidance on managing Bella’s complex condition.

Karlin isn’t the only caregiver who keeps things on the lighter side for Bella. It was at Boston Children’s that she first found comfort in canines through the hospital’s Pawprints pet-visitation program. Her affinity for the therapy dogs (and their human handlers) started when Bella was 6 and required regular infusion treatments. She asked the same question every week: Are the dogs coming by? Most weeks, the answer was yes. A Pawprints dog and its handler would visit, providing a healthy diversion from the hospital routine.

Since then, Bella’s appreciation for four-legged companions has evolved. As her symptoms progressed, it became clear that Bella needed extra support. Her care team expanded to include George, a Great Dane service dog who helps her stay mobile and strong. Today, when Bella visits Boston Children’s, George is often at her side. And Bella still asks the same question: Are the dogs coming by? Thanks to generous volunteers and supporters, the answer is also the same. Boston Children’s Pawprints teams are on the job, delivering comfort to Bella and countless other patients and families.



Meet Incredible Teddy. His family found a home away from home when they needed it most.

When Teddy was born, it was clear that something was very wrong. Unable to breathe on his own, he was placed on a ventilator, but his condition quickly got worse. Teddy was transported by air ambulance from New York to Boston Children’s. His parents, Andi and Phil, were told that he would need months of intensive and highly specialized treatment for congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a rare, life-threatening condition where abdominal organs enter the chest cavity through a hole in the diaphragm, severely restricting lung development.

Boston Children’s is more than three hours from the family’s New York home, so a social worker arranged for Andi, Phil and Teddy’s sister Esther to stay at the Yawkey Family Inn–part of the hospital’s Patient Family Housing Program. For two months, Andi, Phil and Esther remained at the Inn. They visited Teddy, who was just a few blocks away at Boston Children’s–where he underwent surgery and received treatment–until he grew strong enough to go home.

At Yawkey, families receive shelter and so much more. Child life specialists and social workers are on hand for support. Parents bond with other families who understand what they are going through. Children play together in homey spaces filled with toys and books. In the evening, volunteers bring dinner, providing families with the comfort of a hot meal at the end of the day.

Today, Teddy is healthy and loves reading, skiing, swimming, playing baseball and riding his bike. “It’s hard to believe how great he’s doing,” Andi says. “We’ve nicknamed him Incredible Teddy.”

Grateful for Teddy’s lifesaving treatment and their care at the Yawkey Family Inn, Teddy’s family created the Incredible Teddy Foundation, which provides funding for a home away from home for other Boston Children’s families facing CDH.



They were the toughest days of Gabby’s life. Even so, “It felt like I was at home. Everyone kind of felt like family.”

Gabby had been struggling with headaches, weakness and a limp for many months. Doctors near her New Bedford, Massachusetts, home couldn’t get to the bottom of it.

Gabby’s mom, Irma, reached out to Boston Children’s. It was their last hope. Mother and daughter came to the hospital seeking the same thing that brings families here from around the world. They needed an answer. The news was devastating.

Gabby had a brain tumor. Saving her would require immediate surgery. Although Irma was terrified, Gabby’s surgeon put her at ease. “He said he’d treat Gabby as if she was his daughter. That filled me with peace.”

It was December. Gabby was disappointed about spending Christmas in the hospital, but child life specialists brightened her spirits with a fully decorated room, including a tree and lights. Irma provided gifts for Gabby and her siblings thanks to the holiday store. Gabby says, "At Boston Children’s, it felt like I was at home. The doctors, nurses, child life specialists and everyone kind of felt like family."

It took two surgeries to remove Gabby’s tumor. After six weeks of radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy, she is back home and doing well. Now 12, she enjoys soccer and board games … and dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day.

Your gift helps other children through the hardest times. See our childlife specialist at work, and play, with Ethan.

Tiny Wonders

Tiny Wonders

Most newborns herald their arrival with a hearty yell. But premature babies, especially the tiniest, often come in with a whimper.

The lungs of babies born more than 10 weeks before their due dates–or of “micro preemies” weighing less than 2 pounds at birth–are underdeveloped and extremely fragile.

Every year, approximately 15,000 “micro preemies” suffer chronic lung disease, marked by persistent breathing and lung problems. Even as these infants grow from babyhood to the toddler years and beyond, they remain especially vulnerable to flu, asthma and respiratory infections, which are more dangerous to them than to children whose lungs were fully developed at birth.

Inspired by the patients she cares for and fueled by support from generous donors, Stella Kourembanas, MD, chief of newborn medicine, embarked on a career-long quest–find a way to protect and heal tiny lungs.

First, Kourembanas and her research team discovered stem cells derived from babies’ umbilical cords inhibit lung inflammation and promote normal lung development. Next, the team found exosomes released by the stem cells instruct the lung to heal and stimulate normal growth.

The novel findings led to the first-in-human clinical trial of stem-cell-derived exosomes to treat lung disease in premature babies. Boston Children’s is one of multiple centers across the United States that launched the trial in 2019. The cutting-edge treatment may allow premature lungs to develop normally and may prevent–even cure–chronic lung disease, ultimately helping thousands of babies and their parents breathe a sigh of relief.



How light, color and imagination soothe children like Emmett.

Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Emmett, now 9, has blossomed from nonverbal to moderately conversant, reading, doing simple math and enjoying so much of his life.

But the combination of crowds, light, noise and unfamiliar equipment can make a visit to the doctor especially challenging for Emmett. “He wants to touch everything. He uses his hands like we use our eyes,” says his mother Faith.

Boston Children’s team of “autism whisperers,” as Faith refers to her son’s care team, and autism-friendly processes help put children at ease. Emmett loves balloons, so child life specialists use Mylar balloons to coax him through the halls and comfort him during his appointments. Other tools to help prepare kids for procedures include “practice visits,” stories and photos.

Now, with help from donors like you, the hospital is creating clinics that match our expertise with a move to a state-of-the-art center at Two Brookline Place. The building’s autism-friendly sensory environment will feature soft colors, curved walls and quiet rooms. Themed interior design will highlight the amazing capacities of every brain, feeding the imagination and providing whimsical and interactive prompts where visitors of all sizes can be inspired to discover, create, imagine and more.

The building will house a clinical and research hub wholly focused on delivering and advancing compassionate, innovative care for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. But Two Brookline Place is much more than a new medical space that fosters collaboration among experts. It’s a comforting haven for children.




There’s no place like home. This is especially true for families like Lucy’s, who spent months in the hospital.

Born extremely prematurely, Lucy faced multiple complications and needed a ventilator to breathe. At 3 months, she was transferred to Boston Children’s to have breathing and feeding tubes inserted. After nearly a year in the hospital, Lucy was strong enough to breathe on her own and go home with her parents, Lindsey and Kevin.

At home, the couple faced a daunting challenge. They became their daughter’s medical providers and care coordinators–in addition to parenting Lucy and her sister Grace. Fortunately, they had the help of the CAPE (Critical Care, Anesthesia Perioperative Extension) and Home Ventilation Program, since Lucy needed supplemental oxygen.

Created by Robert Graham, MD, in Boston Children’s Division of Critical Care Medicine, the CAPE program enables families to care for children with complex respiratory conditions at home. The team coordinates treatment and provides phone and telemedicine consultations as well as outpatient visits.

Perhaps most importantly, they make house calls and have a 24/7 on-call response for critical issues, which helps minimize trips to the hospital for vulnerable children like Lucy, who face a high risk of hospital-acquired infection. “I don’t think I would feel that Lucy was truly safe at home,” Lindsey says, “if I didn’t have the CAPE team.”

With support from donors like you, Lucy is thriving at home. After she was released from the hospital, she was crawling within a month, standing shortly after, and walking a few months later. Now, nearly 3, Lucy is unstoppable.



How a community program keeps Joel out of the ER and in school (and football!)

Joel’s first asthma attack took his mother Ellis by surprise. When Joel was 2, the family was visiting a friend’s home where one of the residents was a smoker. Before long, Ellis knew something was wrong. “It was so scary,” she says. “His breathing started changing and his neck started caving in. I didn’t know smoke could cause an attack. I was so naive.”

For the next few years, Joel used an inhaler to increase airflow to his lungs and control his asthma attacks. But as he got older, his symptoms worsened and the inhaler wasn’t helping. At age 6, Joel suffered a severe asthma attack, landing him in Boston Children’s emergency room. Doctors told Ellis that her son was at risk for a collapsed lung. After two weeks in the hospital, Joel was released and referred to the hospital’s Community Asthma Initiative (CAI)–a free program that helps Boston-area families manage their child’s asthma at home and keep kids out of the hospital. That means fewer school and work absences and lower health care costs.

During home visits, a nurse or patient educator meets with the family, listens to their concerns and talks with them about what asthma is and how the medications work. They review the child’s medications together to clear up any misunderstandings the family may have. And they conduct an environmental assessment to identify triggers around the home, such as mold or pet dander. To minimize triggers, Joel and Ellis received anti-allergy bedding, a HEPA vacuum and storage bins free of charge.

Ellis thinks the changes made at home combined with a stronger medication have helped her son, who is now an active teen. “Attacks are very rare,” Ellis says. “And he’s always playing football and basketball with his friends.”



Heart disease didn’t mean an end to Kaiti’s lifelong wish.

Kaiti always wanted to be a mom. But she was born with an inherited heart defect. Not only did she worry about being healthy enough to have children, she wondered if she would pass on her condition.

She and her husband now have two adorable daughters–Phoebe, 6, and Chloe, 2–who are the absolute pictures of health. And 32-year-old Kaiti, even as an adult, continues to come to Boston Children’s, as she has since she was born.

“I never had a moment where I thought I was in trouble,” she says. “I always felt so safe at Boston Children’s.”

Today, Kaiti is a patient in the donor-supported Boston Adult Congenital Heart (BACH) Program, which treats the growing population of adults living ever longer with inherited heart disease. The program was established to address the unmet needs of patients transitioning to adult care and was born out of the hospital’s unwavering commitment to treat patients for a lifetime.

Seven years ago, Kaiti had her most recent procedure: to implant a synthetic device to replace the pulmonary valve in her heart. She remembers talking to her physician, program director Anne Marie Valente, MD, about how the new valve would let her realize one of her life goals–having children of her own. The procedure was successful, and the new valve helped improve her blood pressure and circulation, which was important to ensuring her safety during pregnancy.

“Boston Children’s truly has allowed me to not just survive but thrive,” she says.


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