How Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin saved my life

Due to the many wondrous talents and skills by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin physicians and nurses, I am alive today, and I will continue to live day after day after day. I have not been to every clinic and specialist (knock on wood, please), but I’ve been to quite a few over the last almost seventeen years of my life. From orthopedics to ENT to pulmonary functions to the Herma Heart Center, I’ve been down many hallways in the hospital.

What is especially promising and a relief to know is that my cardiologist, Dr. Earing, not only takes care of kids, but also has an adult clinic. This guarantees a knowledgeable …Continue reading →

A delicate balance for my beautiful daughter

Mo and Kate Jurgens

Mo and Kate Jurgens

My daughter Maureen (Mo) has Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, a connective tissue disease similar to Marfan syndrome. Loeys-Dietz syndrome is complicated. It affects the connective tissue that runs throughout the body—organs, muscles, and blood vessels. You name it. It’s present. When the tissue is weakened and defective, it is bound to wear down, be stretched to its limits and sometimes break. A major issue for Loeys-Dietz patients is they develop aneurysms throughout the body along with having many issues with the joints and other soft tissues.

Mo was born in 1995. Loeys-Dietz syndrome was not discovered until 2005. She has made many trips to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin since she was born, visiting a number of clinics including orthopedics, ENT and neurology. Her first visit to …Continue reading →

Never stop fighting: A Herma Heart Center Hero


Callan is the 2012 Herma Heart Center Hero.

At 1-month-old, Callan was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart condition that makes it difficult for blood to flow to the lungs. His doctors in Madison gave him a dismal prognosis, but his parents refused to give up hope. They reached out to the Herma Heart Center team at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee as a last resort for treatment options that might save Callan’s life.

Within a few hours, Callan was rushed to the Herma Heart Center, where physicians recommended a series of three open-heart surgeries. The surgeries took place over several months, and Callan had his ups and …Continue reading →

How child abuse changed the lives of Marge and Chip

I hear a lot of heartbreaking stories about child abuse. You might think this would make my job difficult, and sometimes it does. But people often share their stories because they’re proud of the lives they lead now and who they’ve become. They believe strongly in the important work Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin does through child abuse prevention and intervention programs.

One such couple, Marge and Chip, wanted me to share their stories with you. …Continue reading →

I am the second oldest of 16 kids, and we were all abused

If my mother had gotten help, today I would be one of 16 emotionally and physically happy adults. But that’s not the case.

If my mother had gotten help, today 21 grandkids wouldn’t have to be constantly watched to make sure they don’t face the same issues. But that’s not the case.

I’m often asked if I would change the way I grew up. You’d think I would, but that’s not the case. I wouldn’t, because now I’m happy with who I am. Now I find myself with a unique …Continue reading →

With Dr. Rohloff’s help, we discovered how special our daughter really is

Julie, Morgan, McKenna and Kenneth Perkins

Julie, Morgan, McKenna and Kenneth Perkins

When you are expecting a baby, there are so many emotions that go along with the joyous occasion. From the start, you are asked if the baby is a boy or a girl, but all you really are hoping and praying for is a healthy baby. We experienced some challenges when our oldest daughter was born seven years ago. My pregnancy was uneventful until delivery. Morgan was born weighing less than 4 pounds at full term, and our dreams shattered. We were scared for our daughter …Continue reading →

Child abuse changes lives of children and parents

Diane and Tom Arenberg

Diane and Tom Arenberg

In 1990, we felt we had it made. Nice careers, two beautiful girls and a third one on the way. What could go wrong? Then the sky fell. We discovered that a babysitter had sexually molested our oldest daughter. It felt like we had fallen into a dark cave. How could this happen to us? Somehow it got worse. We experienced the legal system protecting the molester by attacking our lifestyle and accusing others of the …Continue reading →

Surviving against the odds: March of Dimes and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin help premature babies

Ireyln in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Ireyln in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

When I became pregnant with my daughter in 2007, I knew being diabetic could cause complications for me and my baby. At my six-month appointment, I alerted my doctor to vision problems I had been experiencing. I was immediately admitted to the hospital and found out along with my eyesight, my kidneys and heart were starting to fail.

As a single mother, I was preparing myself for the worst – the possibility that one or both of us would not survive. Doctors closely monitored …Continue reading →

A heart transplant gave me a second chance at life

Deb and her son, Alex.

Deb Wallner and her son, Alex.

April is National Donate Life Month, and I am here today because I received a second chance at life. I’m the very fortunate recipient of another person’s heart. When I type or say it out loud, it still seems so surreal and so long ago. But it was only a little more than 8 years ago that congenital heart disease rapidly deteriorated my heart and I was told I needed a transplant.

Since my successful transplant, I have witnessed many of my son’s major milestones and in a few months, I will …Continue reading →

How foster care chose me

I’ve been asked many times why I chose to foster. My answer is simple. I didn’t. It chose me.

Sitting at a meeting one hot August night, I found myself accosted by a 2-year-old boy with an angelic face who promptly jumped into my lap, buried his sweaty little head in my chest and sat there for the entire two-hour meeting. When the meeting ended, I looked at his presumed parents and playfully asked …Continue reading this post