Philadelphia Eagles CHOP MVP
The Philadelphia Eagles are proud to partner with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to recognize some special MVPs. These children have faced complex conditions, persevering through surgeries, symptoms, and challenges, all with the help from compassionate healthcare professionals at CHOP. We continue to cheer them on throughout the season by sharing their inspiring stories of strength and resiliency.
A barely noticeable rash brought Sloane to CHOP's E.R. and led to her leukemia diagnosis. Her family is grateful that CHOP's world-class pediatric oncology program is so close by.
A few tiny purple spots on Sloane's arms and legs signaled to her parents, Lyndsay and Jon, that something might be wrong. Sloane's pediatrician identified the spots as petechiae and told Lyndsay and Jon to call if they noticed it spreading. "Later that evening, we noticed one more tiny purple dot by her eye," says Lyndsay.
The next morning, the pediatrician recommended taking Sloane to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's (CHOP) Emergency Department for a blood test. "I knew something was awry when a team of doctors came into our room. It was then that we got the shocking diagnosis that Sloane had leukemia," says Lyndsay. Sloane was immediately admitted to the oncology floor where she spent a lot of time during November and December 2019 — and quickly began making friends with everyone.
Faced with this overwhelming diagnosis, Lyndsay and Jon began to evaluate all options to determine the best course of care for Sloane. "While doing extensive research, we learned CHOP is consistently rated one of the best pediatric oncology units in the world," says Jon. "The highest level of care is available to us right in our backyard — it's literally 0.9 miles door to door."
Sloane underwent chemotherapy of varying intensity and frequency, both in CHOP's oncology clinic and at home administered by her parents. "At CHOP, you can tell that everyone we interact with genuinely cares about our family," says Lyndsay. Sloane has so many friends, from the front-desk admins to the triage nurses to her care team. She looks forward to going to clinic and is always sad when it's time to leave.
Now 4 years old, Sloane finished her treatment in January 2022, so she doesn't see her CHOP fan club as often. "If we have other appointments at CHOP, we'll stop in the oncology clinic to say hi," says Lyndsay. With no more restrictions on her activities, Sloane played soccer over the summer, loved going to the beach and even went to Disney World. This fall, Sloane started pre-K. "She was ready to go on the first day of school," Lyndsay reports. "She just wanted us to drop her off and not go in with her!"
Throughout everything, Sloane's outgoing personality shines through. "She likes to be the leader, whether of her friends in the playground, her dogs, Woodley and Ranger, but especially her parents," Jon says with a laugh.
While Julia's diagnosis of a brain tumor was a shock to her family, the location and type of tumor meant surgery at CHOP was the only treatment she needed.
In early 2015, when Julia was 9, she became sick, with symptoms of morning vomiting, fatigue and minor headaches. After several trips to the pediatrician and a referral to a gastroenterologist, her parents, Sue and Scott, noticed that Julia's smile was crooked and she was not using her left arm as much. Their concern grew as her symptoms did not seem to fit any of the illnesses for which the GI doctor wanted to test. Then in March, the school nurse called to say Julia was complaining of a headache and was having difficulty swallowing acetaminophen, so her parents rushed her to the Emergency Department at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). "The 15-minute drive to CHOP was terrifying," Sue recalls. "Julia was slumped over to one side and was very lethargic and could barely respond to questions." Scott carried her into the ED, where she was seen almost immediately. The initial thought was that she was dehydrated. "We had a terrible feeling that was not the case," says Sue. After fluids did not help, she was taken for a CAT scan: "Our worst fears were confirmed — Julia had a large tumor on the right frontal cortex of her brain."
"Although it was a difficult diagnosis to grasp, we were told very encouraging news from the beginning," says Scott. Julia's neurosurgeon, Phillip "Jay" Storm, MD, met with Sue and Scott in the ED explained that Julia would be having surgery "during this hospital admission." "How did we send our daughter to school that morning and now we were talking brain surgery within the next day?" Scott remembers with amazement. That evening, Dr. Storm performed a procedure to drain the fluid from the cystic part of the tumor. During this surgery, they also did an MRI so that Dr. Storm could plan the surgery to remove the tumor.
Julia's reaction to learning what was wrong was memorable: "When we explained to her that the doctors discovered what had been making her sick and that they were going to do surgery to take out the tumor, she responded with an emphatic 'Yay!'" says Sue. "Julia has always been a very tough child, and it was evident that she had been feeling much worse than any of us knew."
The next morning, Dr. Storm removed the entire baseball-sized tumor during a five-hour operation. The location of the tumor was ideal for complete removal, and the type was classified as non-cancerous, meaning neither chemotherapy nor radiation was needed after surgery. After a few weeks of physical therapy, Julia was back to all her normal activities.
Now, more than seven years later, Julia is an active, healthy teenager who plays varsity and club lacrosse and soccer and excels academically in high school. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, skiing and going to the beach.
"Words cannot summarize our gratitude for the doctors, nurses and the rest of the staff at CHOP who treated Julia and who care for sick kids day after day," says Sue. "While we feel that her full recovery was a miracle, we are so fortunate to have CHOP in our community. Without CHOP. Julia's outcome and long-term prognosis could have been very different!"
Vomiting and swollen legs led to a shocking diagnosis: Jayden's heart was failing. A heart transplant at CHOP has transformed his life.
In the fall of 2021, 11-year-old Jayden started vomiting often — soon it was happening every day, sometimes more than once. "We took him to the E.R., to his primary care doctor," says his older brother Travis, who is Jayden's primary caregiver. "No one could figure out why. They were thinking it was a digestive issue."
It was a tough time. The brothers were still grieving their mother's death from cancer just a few months prior. Jayden's vomiting and stomach pain persisted for weeks. Then his legs began swelling. Jayden's primary care doctor was concerned about the swollen legs and ordered imaging. That's when it was discovered that his heart was enlarged.
Jayden was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure. He was admitted to a local children's hospital and put on medications, but he didn't improve.
"The doctors met with us, and they mentioned transplant," says Travis. They suggested transferring Jayden to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where the experts at the Heart Failure and Transplant Program have extensive experience treating heart failure in children of all ages.
"They've been an amazing team," Travis says of CHOP. "They explained everything about the procedure and what Jayden had to do to be in good enough health for a transplant." Jayden first underwent surgery in December 2021 to implant a left ventricular assist device, which is a pump that does most or all of the work of the heart.
After a few weeks, they received the call: a heart was available. Travis laughs with amazement about Jayden's reaction. "He was acting like he wasn't nervous — like just nonchalant. I asked him, 'How are you not afraid?' If that was me, hearing they're going to take my heart out, I wouldn't be that brave!" Travis thinks Jayden was taking after their late mother. "Mom had brain cancer and three operations, and she was always tough. He gets it from her."
The transplant surgery in February 2022 was successful, and Jayden's recovery has been steady. When it was time to go home, "They were great in training us," Travis says of the CHOP team, "and were always checking in on us." Jayden, now 12, was able to return to school near the end of the spring semester and was recently cleared to play sports. "We're getting back into a routine," Travis reports happily.
Amir was born with multiple spinal problems. Surgeries at CHOP have helped straighten his spine, improving his self-confidence.
Eleven-year-old Amir is in sixth grade. He was born with multiple spinal problems, including spina bifida and congenital complex spinal deformity, a condition in which an area of the spinal column doesn't form properly, leaving a section of the spinal cord and spinal nerves exposed through an opening in the back. He also has severe curvature of the spine, and he is of short stature. These conditions have affected his ability to play the sports that he loves.
In 2020, his mother died suddenly, and he has since been adopted by his second cousin, Veda. "He is very resilient and has adjusted," says Veda proudly. "He loves video games, reading, watching the Philadelphia Eagles and holding in-depth conversations."
Veda brought Amir to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where he is cared for by several specialists, including a team in the Division of Orthopaedics. Dr. Keith Baldwin, a scoliosis surgeon and the Director of Orthopaedic Trauma, has directed his care. Amir has undergone surgeries to detether his spinal cord by Dr. Gregory Heuer, and Drs. Baldwin and Jason Anari performed surgery to stabilize and decrease the curvature of his spine.
"Amir is a tough guy who has experienced a lot in his short, young life and is improving nicely after his surgery. Throughout it all, he has maintained a happy and cheerful attitude that is frankly inspirational," says Dr. Baldwin.
"This procedure has added 4 inches to his height and has improved his self-confidence," Veda reports. "Dr. Baldwin and his team were compassionate and provided excellent care to Amir."
After suffering a traumatic brain injury when he was just a newborn, Colton was diagnosed with epilepsy, cerebral palsy and visual impairment caused by the damage to his brain. Following a successful brain surgery at CHOP, 5-year-old Colton is now seizure free.
As a toddler, Asher was diagnosed with sickle cell disease, a painful, debilitating condition. For years, he suffered through multiple hospitalizations and monthly blood transfusions. When he was 13, his family came to CHOP to explore the curative therapy of a bone marrow transplant.
Jack | Eagles vs. Washington
Jack, a triplet, only weighed 3.2 pounds at birth and spent 23 days in the NICU at CHOP. Growing up, he experienced multiple developments and speech delays. Fortunately, he was able to participate in special programs along the way to assist him, including the CHOP Special Babies Clinic. At age 12, he was diagnosed with Autism, but thanks to the doctors and resources at CHOP, he has been able to develop the skills he needs to strive. Find out more about Jack's story below.
Raymond | Eagles vs. Seahawks
Raymond was born with a craniofacial difference condition called Hemifacial Microsomia. It was very difficult for him to breathe on his own, and his jaw and airway were some of the tiniest his doctors had ever seen. After he was born, Ray began his life with a two month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and since then has undergone ten surgeries throughout his life. Click here to learn more about Ray's journey and his inspirational message.
Gabriel | Eagles vs. Cowboys
Gabe was born 13 weeks prematurely, weighing only 25 ounces. He battled for the first five months of his life but thanks to his second family, the Neonatal Development Program and Cerebral Palsy Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, at 19 years old, he has far exceeded expectations. Click here to learn more about Gabe's journey and see his charming smile!
Emily | Eagles vs. Giants
At 20 weeks, an ultrasound showed that Emily had sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT), a tumor located at the base of her tailbone. She was given a 50/50 chance of survival, so her parents turned to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, for help. At 34 weeks, the tumor hemorrhaged, requiring an emergency C-section, causing Emily to lose a lot of blood. The next day, the tumor, which weighed more than two pounds – a third of her birth weight - was removed via surgery. Click here to find out how far Emily has come!
Jayant | Eagles vs. Ravens
During a routine 18-week ultrasound, Jayant was diagnosed with the most severe form of spina bifida. The family temporarily relocated from Florida to Philadelphia to undergo fetal surgery to treat the condition while he was still in his mother's womb. After his birth, he only had to spend six days in the NICU and the family was able to return home to Florida for Christmas. Every year, they travel back to CHOP for annual appointments with the neurosurgeon. Click below to learn more about Jayant and his family and how they became lifelong Eagles fans.
Caylin | Eagles vs. Bengals
Shortly after birth, Caylin was diagnosed with sickle cell disease, causing her to have multiple visits to CHOP's Emergency department for sudden fevers and infections. Since the age of 5, she's undergone regular blood transfusions. Her experiences with CHOP have inspired her to pursue a career in the medical field. Click below to learn more about Caylin's story.
Guy | Eagles vs. Rams
After complaining of a sore arm, Guy was sent to CHOP by his pediatrician, where he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right humerus. This required multiple bouts of chemo and surgery. After being in remission, routine scans showed it had returned to his lung. CHOP was quick to remove it and since then, Guy has routine scans every 3 months to monitor it. Through it all, he continues to stay strong. Click below to learn more about Guy's story.