Finding Answers at National Jewish Health

Patients come from around the nation to National Jewish Health for answers to questions about their respiratory and related diseases.



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People from around the nation come to National Jewish Health seeking solutions, solutions no one else has found.

"I'm unable to find out what really is causing all this...No answers, can't find anything out...Nothing seems to work...They couldn't help me, like what was wrong with me?...He would scratch so much he would bleed...It's really hard for me because I know he got it from me, they got it from me...I just don't like to see them suffer...I felt like a complete failure."

For more than three decades, Jerry Wallace coached football in Oklahoma with passion and great success. Recurrent respiratory infections damaged his lungs and coaching became difficult. It made me retire from football...they just named a field after me four years ago. I would run a high fever, very disoriented, very sick. I was in pain. We tried everything so our doctors just said, "Hey, let's go to the best," and he felt like this was the time to come here. 

Jerry has come to the infectious disease unit at National Jewish Health. He and his wife Estella first meet with their physician, Dr. Wendi Drummond, to hear her plan for treatment. "You know, part of the perplexing issue here - if you didn't have the history of recurrent pulmonary infections as a child, which is significant, I would look at your skin and say 'you're aspirating.' That's why we have to dig a little deeper."

"Within 30 minutes, they had me doing blood work, doing a heart monitor. It was very intense." While visiting speech pathology for a barium swallow test, Jerry learns there is a problem. "That black spot is a little bit of liquid being aspirated. It's a straight shot on down to the lungs and that is what frequently causes pneumonia, is when there's liquid getting into the lungs." "That was very shocking when they told me about this - I've been swallowing my whole life and never had a problem. It's one of the unique qualities about this hospital: doing the things that a lot of people wouldn't think about doing.

Caeleb McDonald is one of the only people in the world allergic to the only medication that can treat their hemophilia. Unable to receive blood clotting factor, he suffers unstoppable bleeding in his joints. "There were hours and hours at a time he'd be screaming in pain. The doses of morphine that they were giving - high doses - couldn't alleviate the pain. There has got to be something to make him better and we weren't finding it."

"Here we were able to see a whole team but still they were coordinating our care...a couple days, one test after another...things that seemed very simple but we've just never done them's a good feeling to not have to be so concerned and worried."

Like many soldiers who served in the Middle East, Adam DeVore developed an incurable lung disease. He comes to National Jewish Health for care and contributes to research. "I go up a flight of stairs and it's almost like suffocating and it's very difficult. I hope that someday we'll find a cure."

Some diseases continue to resist treatment. Research done at National Jewish Health offers hope for the future. "The research that is going on here needs to continue, it needs to. Not just for me, but I have 3 year-olds, I have three girls, I want to walk them down the aisle someday."

Back in Oklahoma, Jerry Wallace is following a treatment plan outlined by his team at National Jewish Health and feeling much better. Attention to detail has been the key to Jerry Wallace's success - he sees the same winning approach at National Jewish Health. "It goes back to details - it's making sure that you get all the little things right that makes a big difference in the whole body."

Caeleb's intense pain and internal bleeding continued, eventually requiring a wheelchair. With nowhere else to turn, the McDonalds found Dr. Jordan Abbott. Dr. Abbott could find no report of a case like Caeleb's, an allergy to hemophilia medication. Lacking guidance from others, he devised a novel cutting-edge solution: he gave Caeleb a new medication to block the allergic reaction...and it worked. "When we tried it before, we felt pretty optimistic and to this day, he's tolerated the procedure." "When you had a child who couldn't climb the stairs of his house, now running up the stairs and down the stairs, playing outside, that has just changed our life and I know that Caeleb, to have suffered as much as he has, and to be happy and smiling, there is something amazing that that boy is going to do with his life."

"This is the best place to be; you can just feel it when you walk in...I really felt like they wanted to hear our story...I'm excited, I'm glad we came, our lives are forever changed."

At National Jewish Health, we never say never.


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