State: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Facility: Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center
Isaiah was born with Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension and spent his first four days of life in a medically induced coma. He was transferred between three different hospitals while his mother remained recovering in the hospital. At 3 months of age, he was enrolled in the Early Steps program to help address and coordinate services for developmental delays; he was also enrolled in our Medical Home program to coordinate essential medical services. Within a month of Early Steps and Medical Home enrollment, Isaiah also began attending therapies at a skilled nursing facility.
Almost a year into Isaiah’s life, he was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, which is a relatively uncommon liver cancer for children to have. Isaiah spent his very first birthday in the hospital. He lit up the faces of doctors and nurses at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Center for almost a year, where he received chemotherapy treatment and in-patient care. At different intervals in his care, his family was told that Isaiah would not walk, talk, or be able to be fed by mouth.
Although the staff at Joe DiMaggio and the family came to know each other fondly, it was a happy day when little Isaiah was at last discharged. Although doctors had projected he would require chemo for at least 2 years, he gladly proved them wrong after only three months of chemo. He was 1 & ½ years old when the family finally received news that he was officially in remission. He began talking soon thereafter, and was walking by the age of 2.
Given his condition and long hospitalization, it is of no surprise that Isaiah had continued to experience developmental delays. At age 4, he began receiving additional therapies for another year, until he joined school at 5. In Kindergarten, his mom happily contacted her social worker, reporting that his teacher had sent a note home with Isaiah complimenting his good behavior in the classroom and that he had done very well on his mini-FCATs, and would be moving on to the first grade.
At our hospital, Isaiah has one amazing fan club. He has inspired every person that has been involved with his care from the age of 2 months when he was first enrolled for primary care. We all give updates to one another when his mom calls to report his accomplishments, and line up to see him when he walks through the door. He has moved us all to tears of amazement and joy of how far he has come. His mom said it best when she told her social worker, “I never knew what was inside of me until Isaiah. I learned how to love deeply, I learned patience, persistence, and perseverance.” At such a young age, Isaiah has taught a lot of adults some powerful life lessons, and is sure to continue to take the world on by storm.