Leah Koller
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania
Pediatric Glioma
Several years ago, Leah took part in an experimental treatment for gliomas
spearheaded by the Brain Care Institute at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
of UPMC. Gliomas, a complicated form of brain tumors, are particularly
challenging to treat. Because of the location of Leah’s tumor, doctors
knew that removing it would cause her to be paralyzed on her right side.
It also appeared that Leah’s tumor was spreading throughout the brain,
which made surgery an even less viable option. And other treatments, like
radiation, posed the threat of developmental damage. Leah and her family
chose to participate in the Glioma Vaccine Trial, led by Drs. Ian Pollack
and Regina Jakacki, which was adapted from an earlier adult study. As a
result, the glioma in Leah’s brain slowly began to shrink and is now half its
original size. Due to its success with Leah and other patients of the Brain
Care Institute, the trial is now in the process of being adopted by children’s
hospitals across the nation.
“Dr. Jakacki is just part of our family, whether she wants to be
or not, she’s part of us now.”
– Raelene Koller, Leah’s Mother
Nathan Barcaskey
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Moyamoya Syndrome
Nathan Barcaskey was a healthy, happy, energetic kid. He loved to wrestle,
play basketball, and take hikes in the woods. When Nathan started
complaining of bad headaches, his mother took him to the family’s PCP,
who recommended that she see Dr. Bilal Sitwat, a neurologist in the Brain
Care Institute at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Dr. Sitwat
immediately ordered an MRI for Nathan and reviewed the scans with a
team of doctors from the Brain Care Institute. They concluded that Nathan
was suffering from a rare brain disorder known as Moyamoya syndrome,
which restricted blood flow to Nathan’s brain. Within a few weeks,
Dr. Stephanie Greene, a neurosurgeon at Children’s, performed a complex
and delicate operation to redirect healthy blood vessels to Nathan’s brain.
Today, he has regained the energy and youthful spirit that made him
a favorite among his six siblings and countless friends.
“They spoke to me in terms I could understand, and they quickly
found out what my son was suffering from. I felt confident that
they were the best people to treat Nathan and I was right – they
saved his life.”
– Colleen Barcaskey, Nathan’s Mother
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