Athena: Your Monthly Giving Featured Patient

Hi, Monthly Giving Partners! I’m Athena. I’m almost 16 years old, and I want to share my story of how Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford—and you—saved my life.

I was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy, where the heart becomes stiff and is unable to function properly. Dr. Beth Kaufman and her team kindly walked my family through the diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, there’s no cure yet for this disease, except for a transplant. This came as a total shock, but the staff guided us through as I waited for a new heart.

One night in May 2017, when I was in seventh grade, I woke up crying. My parents rushed in to find me unable to talk or move my limbs. Our local hospital diagnosed it as a stroke, but they had never dealt with a pediatric stroke before. My dad contacted Packard Children’s. They sent an ambulance to pick us up and immediately took me into surgery to remove a clot. I was discharged five days later and started months of rehab at another hospital.

Six months later, my condition worsened, and I was back at Packard Children’s. A month later in December, I got an early Christmas gift: a healthy heart that fit me just fine.

Today, I’m home and a sophomore in high school. I still receive care at Packard Children’s, but I spend my free time dancing, volunteering with children with autism, tutoring at the local library, and teaching music.

Being a cardiology kid in the hospital inspired me to want a career as a pediatric cardiologist. Being a cardiology kid at Packard Children’s has inspired me to make Stanford my first choice for school.

My story isn’t only mine. It’s yours, too. You’ve been there, behind the scenes. I hope you know that I’m here—alive—because of your generosity and commitment to the hospital. From the bottom of my (adopted) heart and the hearts of hundreds of families like mine: thank you.