Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Heart Patient Named Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

March 5, 2018

Shannon Witkouski, a lifelong patient of the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, has been named the hospital’s 2018 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) ambassador.

Shannon, age 14, was born with a ventricular septal defect, a hole in the heart separating the two lower chambers. In 2015, the family learned that she had two significant defects: an atrial septal defect between the top chambers of the heart in addition to her complex ventricular septal defects between the bottom chambers of the heart. With Shannon showing signs of distress because her heart wasn’t working as it should, doctors at the Heart Institute performed two open-heart surgeries over five days to repair her heart. Shannon is now doing well and sees her physicians and care team once a year for follow-up appointments.

“I was blown away to be chosen as an ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals,” said Shannon. “This is my way to share my story and give back to the many people who helped my family and me when I wasn’t doing well, and help all the kids who are sick and patients in hospitals now. All kids should just be focused on being kids, not on their illness, or medical tests, or being in a hospital.”

“We are honored to have Shannon as our 2018 ambassador and have her represent all of the patients and families here at Children’s Hospital,” said Greg Barrett, president, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. “She exemplifies the passion and the willingness to support and help raise both funds and awareness for both Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.”

Shannon has served as a youth ambassador and spokesperson with the American Heart Association since 2013, and received their Great Rivers Affiliate’s “Young Hearts Award” in 2016 in recognition of her volunteer efforts. Following her open-heart surgeries, she became involved with Children’s Hospital and its Heart Institute, and attends the annual Dr. Bill Neches Heart Camp for Kids, which, she says, makes the opportunity to represent kids and the ambassador honor so meaningful.

Shannon is an aspiring percussionist/mallet musician and hopes to one day become a pediatrician, taking care of kids with heart problems. She also enjoys playing the piano and tennis, drawing, and watching movies. A technology enthusiast, Shannon recently was certified as an Apple Teacher, and creates graphics for social media, which are used by the Beaver Area School District Education Foundation.

The CMNH Champions Ambassador program celebrates a child from every CMNH in the United States who has bravely battled a serious injury or illness.

As the CMNH Ambassador, Shannon will represent Children’s Hospital at local community events with CMNH national partners including Ace Hardware, Dairy Queen, Costco, iHeart Media, Rite Aid, Sam’s Club, Speedway and Walmart.

Contact: Andrea Kunicky
Office: 412-692-6254
Mobile: 412-439-5264

Contact: Marc Lukasiak
Office: 412-692-7919
Mobile: 412-721-2120