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Niswonger Children’s Stories

Trae portrait with helmet, no background

Trae, Special Kid, Special Care

God provided for Trae’s needs by putting us near a great hospital specifically for children.
– Courtney Wampler, Trae’s mom

Courtney and Thomas Wampler were ecstatic to learn they were expecting their first child. Then an anatomy scan at 18 weeks brought shocking news: the baby had no arms. And something was wrong with his legs. The couple went from numb to mission-minded. They would fight to help their baby meet the challenges ahead.

Eight hours after Trae’s birth, he had both blood and platelet transfusions. The diagnosis? Thrombocytopenia Absent Radius Syndrome (TARS), a rare disease affecting one in 100,000 babies.

Before age 3, Trae had endured more than 250 platelet transfusions. At 4 years old, he improved so much he needed only two transfusions and he is now walking independently. A modified walker helps him navigate the corridors of Niswonger Children’s Hospital during visits where he greets the staff, all of them his friends.

“God provided for Trae’s needs by putting us near a great hospital specifically for children,” his mother, Courtney says. But the hospital also meets Courtney and Thomas’ needs. With no relatives in the area, Courtney says gratefully, “Niswonger Children’s Hospital has provided us with family, too.”

Maddy portrait wearing pink glasses

Maddy, the Princess Warrior

Maddy gets scared very easily in hospital environments, but our first encounter with Niswonger was pretty awesome.
– Laura King, Maddy’s mom

When Maddy’s preschool teacher shared concerns about her extreme developmental delays, Laura King took her daughter to the pediatrician for answers. She asked if the development issues could be related to neurofibromatosis, a condition Maddy was diagnosed with at 2 weeks old. Characterized by light brown “café-au-lait” spots on the skin, the condition also can indicate a risk of tumor formation, especially in the brain. After testing, her parents absorbed the shocking news…at just 4 years old, Maddy had cancer.

Since that difficult day more than a year ago, Maddy, has bravely battled her fear of hospitals during regular visits to Niswonger Children’s Hospital for treatments. The staff, each experienced at interacting with children in a medical environment, have helped Maddy and her family, including big brother Isaac, navigate this life-changing journey with hope that can only be found in a place like Niswonger Children’s Hospital…a place just for kids and their families.


James portrait leaning forward with chin on hand

James Griffith

Sharing cancer… and friendship

When Emily Smith took her son James to the pediatrician, she expected him to be treated for a bad cold or childhood allergies. Instead, the news was life-changing – James was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

At first, coming to Niswonger Children’s Hospital for his weekly treatments was scary and upsetting, but a treasure box of toys, an X-Box to play, child life specialists who help James feel comfortable, and doctors and nurses who have become his friends helped to ease his fears.

Still, because of his lowered immune status, James can’t go to 
school or play with other kids, a hard pill to swallow for an active little boy who loves sports, superheroes and playing with friends. The 
Niswonger team even found a remedy for that. “They scheduled another little boy to receive his treatment on Thursdays, too, so he 
and James could be buddies,” says Emily. “Now James looks forward to Thursdays when he knows he’ll see his friends at the hospital.”


Kyah portrait

Kyah Jones

From scared to smiling

When Layne Jones took her daughter Kyah to an urgent care clinic for shoulder and abdominal pain, tiny red dots on her lower legs caught the doctor’s attention as a possible sign of something serious. Testing confirmed the physician’s suspicion – Kyah had leukemia.

Soon after, Kyah arrived at Niswonger Children’s Hospital for treatment terrified and in tears. The child life specialist soothed her fears with a bag of treats and a compassionate explanation of the procedures and treatments that lie ahead. Today, Kyah bounces into Niswonger for her treatments with a big grin, excited about seeing her special friends.

“Sometimes you actually have a fun time and forget you’re getting chemo,” says Kyah. “Sometimes it’s hard, but you get through it.”

How does a kid get through the worst nightmare ever? With compassionate care at a place like Niswonger, designed just for kids – where fear turns to fun, horror to hope and tears to trust.

Tanaya portrait with arms around knees

Tanaya Anderson

Keeping a kid healthy…and on her toes.

Tanaya Anderson is a ballet dancer. She’s also a gymnast and cheerleader.

Not long ago, though, Tanaya spent a lot of time in the hospital because she has sickle cell anemia, which means there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout her body. As a result, these red blood cells can slow or block blood flow.

When Tanaya was 2 months old she had her first sickle cell crisis, a very painful and serious event. From that time on until she was 7 years old, she was in and out of the hospital 150 times or more until doctors could get her stabilized with medication.

Her physicians in hematology services at Niswonger Children’s Hospital found a treatment that has given Tanaya her childhood back.

“The hospital provides her with a drug, hydroxyurea, that has been a night-and-day success,” said David Anderson, Tanaya’s father. “We went from being in the hospital every few months to no hospitalizations in five years.”

Together, the Andersons still have to be vigilant about her health, but thanks to the treatment Tanaya receives from Niswonger Children’s Hospital, she’s able to enjoy being a normal, active kid, and living a productive life.