Photos show how far patients have come

When we asked families to send in photos from their experiences at Cincinnati Children’s, more than 100 people responded. We invited a handful of families to come back and tell us how far they’ve come. On Day Three of our “Look at Me Now” series, we’re sharing more stories of families who pulled through some rough patches to be able to say “Look at me now.”

The Perez Family

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In January 2007, Evan Perez had the last of four surgeries to keep him from having any more ear infections. Multiple infections had impaired his hearing, and he had a speech delay. The surgeries allowed him to hear like a typical child, and he graduated from the speech therapy program two years ago. At 12, he has a great vocabulary, hears well and is captain of his baseball team. “Nothing compares in Cincinnati, or anywhere, to the service we had at Cincinnati Children’s,” says his mom, Laura. Today, Evan is 11 years old and glad to be healthy.

The Pottebaums
Katelynn Pottebaum’s arrival eight weeks early was fraught with complications. Katelynn’s underdeveloped lungs made it hard for her to absorb oxygen, and caregivers at her birth hospital said there was nothing else they could do. But to everyone’s amazement, Katelynn held on. Nurses at Cincinnati Children’s slowly weaned her off oxygen so she could breathe on her own, and before long, she was able to go home. “The exit from the hospital was bittersweet,” says her mother, Christina. “We are forever indebted to every single person who came into contact with Katelynn. I swore at that moment we’d never forget Children’s and what they did for us.”

The Claytors
His parents thought Austin Claytor just had a cough when they took him to the doctor in 2009. It turned out to be a staph infection that nearly wiped out his airway and lungs. Doctors placed him on an artificial lung machine. There were moments when his family wondered if he would ever recover. But he pulled through. He had to relearn how to walk and talk, but today he is getting ready for junior high. He loves hunting and fishing and is back to playing sports again. “We really don’t notice much difference in him,” says his dad, Otis, “other than he is super strong.”

The Daisey Family
Chase Daisey was a healthy 1-year-old when he was admitted to the hospital after battling a fever for several days. An infection
that had started in his throat turned into an abscess and infected his lymph nodes. He needed two surgeries and a two-week stay at the hospital. “I remember wondering how we ended up there,” says his mom, Julie. “But we knew we were in the right place. The healing that happens inside these walls is powerful. The people are amazing. We will never forget our time here and those who touched our lives.”

The Bircks
Anna Birck was born in December 2002 with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a life-threatening birth defect that causes respiratory distress. She had surgery at Cincinnati Children’s three days after birth. “We brought her home on Christmas Eve, the best gift we could have wished for that Christmas,” says her mom, Jane. Anna is now a happy, healthy 9-year-old.

The Roberts Family
Jane Roberts spent her first year in and out of Cincinnati Children’s for heart surgeries to correct a series of congenital heart defects. “Being told she probably wouldn’t survive was devastating,” says her mom, Andrea. “Seeing her pull through four open-heart surgeries, months of hospital stays and years of therapy was amazing.” Today, she is 9 years old and perfectly healthy. As a third-grader, she had the reading level and comprehension of a ninth- grader. The family’s “before” picture is of Jane connected to lots of tubes and monitors. Today, her family can hug her much more easily.

Tanya Leach

About the Author: Tanya Leach

Tanya Bricking Leach is a writer and video producer at Cincinnati Children's and a former newspaper reporter who has covered crime for The Cincinnati Enquirer, sports for USA Today, island life for The Honolulu Advertiser, food for The Associated Press and stories about storms and surfers for the New York Times. Tanya is the author of the military-themed travel guide "Hawaii for Heroes." She is married to a military veteran and is the mother of two young boys. When she's not wired in at work, she enjoys unplugging with her family on their sailboat.

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