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Eighteen-year-old Kaitlin has experienced more surgeries than anyone should ever withstand.

In 2004, Kaitlin was born with an extremely rare case of Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS). ABS is when a fibrous band comes loose in the amniotic sack and attaches to the baby, causing stunted or deformed growth. In most cases, ABS impacts limbs or digits, but Kaitlin’s case affected her face with a lateral cleft and facial paralysis.

When Kaitlin as just 4 days old, her parents, Tom and Janine, met with Stephen Schendel, MD, DDS, and the Packard Children’s Craniofacial Anomalies team to fully understand her condition. Schendel performed Kaitlin’s first surgery when she was just 12 weeks old.

Kaitlin has received life-long care at our hospital and undergone 16 surgeries. Kaitlin is proud to participate the Virtual Summer Scamper, raising awareness and supporting a cause close to her heart: the Children’s Fund, which ensures all children can receive the same great care she has.

Today Kaitlin is a sophomore in high school and an accomplished figure skater, competing at the intermediate level.

When speaking of her role models, Kaitlin talks about cancer survivor and fellow skater, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton.

“A few years ago, Scott Hamilton created a campaign called ‘We Get Up,’” explains Kaitlin. “This is a phrase I think about and live by every day. To me, ‘We Get Up’ does not just mean standing up after falling on a double axel, but also putting a bad test score behind me or recovering quicker and better than ever from my latest surgery.”

Not only is Kaitlin’s positive attitude present as she faces health challenges, but it’s also evident when she gives back and supports other patients just like her. Kaitlin is a Children’s Fund donor who wants to send hope to the patients and families at Packard Children’s.

Kaitlin has even set her sights on attending Stanford University Medical School, where she believes her experience as a pediatric patient will help her provide compassionate care for others.

“It was because of the caring staff at Packard Children’s that I knew, even as a 6-year-old, that I wanted to do the same for other families,” Kaitlin says. “My family has never had a bad experience at Packard Children’s, and I hope that when I enter the medical field I can create the same atmosphere for the next generation of children.”

We are honored to have Kaitlin with us as a Summer Scamper Patient Hero.