When Kirkland resident Sarah Eames was 6 months old she was failing to thrive. She was admitted to Children's Hospital and given a 20-50% chance of survival. For the next 15 years she battled many illnesses, including a near-fatal bout of pneumonia in 7th grade. Doctors were unable to diagnose the underlying cause of her poor health.
Finally, at age 15, she tested positive for Myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness of the skeletal muscles. In addition, Sarah was found to have hyperthyroidism and low levels of immunoglobulin A (known as IGa deficiency), which makes her vulnerable to illness.
Thanks to the care and treatment she received at Children’s, including removal of her thymus gland, monthly IV infusions, and doses of prednisone, her health has improved significantly. At age 20, she now attends Bellevue College, where she is studying early childhood education. She hopes to teach in a preschool or daycare. “I have a love for kids,” she says.
Three years ago, the staff at Children’s, who knew Sarah had a talent for drawing, asked if she would design a holiday card. Sales of the cards help support the hospital, whose mission is to prevent, treat, and eliminate pediatric disease.
Almost half of Children's patients are covered by Medicaid, which reimburses only 69% of actual treatment costs. Uncompensated care makes up the difference. This year, the hospital expects uncompensated care to exceed $100 million.
Many families with private insurance are also struggling as a result of job losses and reductions in health benefits. When a hospital bill exceeds a family's ability to pay, Children's financial assistance program tries to help.
Sarah and her parents are very grateful that Children’s was there to help when they needed it.