Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare: 1918-2018 100 years


Our STORY is Your Story

We’re celebrating our history by sharing 100 stories of care, compassion and commitment. Check back as more stories are added throughout the year.

Snapshot Stories

God's Plan Took Us to Memphis

At just 8 months old, Hannah Grace Jones’ mother, Catrina, knew something wasn’t quite right when her little girl began experiencing episodes during which she would tighten into a fetal position and then stretch out as if she were in pain. Initially, doctors thought Hannah might be suffering from acid reflux or infantile spasms, but upon further testing, they found tumors on her brain consistent with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) ‐ a disease in which no two cases are the same.

In 2012, Hannah went to her local pediatric neurologist in Louisiana expecting lab work to show she could start weaning off one of her seizure medications. When, instead, they came back abnormal and showed that her white blood cell counts were very low.

Later that day, Hannah caught a fever and was immediately rushed to the hospital where things quickly went from bad to worse. After multiple round of tests to try and figure out what was causing her deteriorating condition, doctors diagnosed Hannah with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) ‐ a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.

The next morning, Hannah and Catrina went by ambulance to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where the doctors worked hand‐in‐hand with the TSC team at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. They had never treated a child with both TSC and ALL, and both hospitals were dedicated to working together to achieve the best outcomes for such a unique situation.

“I could see God’s plan unfolding. I hate that cancer took us to Memphis, but it was God’s grace and will for us to go there and meet the team at Le Bonheur,” Catrina says through tears.

Now 16, Hannah still requires regular check‐ups at both St. Jude and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. For each visit, Catrina and Hannah have to travel five hours from their home in Louisiana and are so grateful for the incredible hospitality and services provided by the FedExFamilyHouse.

A Gift to Families

In November 2016, Christopher Monistere was diagnosed with a brain tumor and immediately rushed into emergency surgery in Louisiana. He had three more emergency surgeries before Christmas that year – all resulting in doctors believing his tumor could not be fully resected.

A couple of days after Christmas, Christopher’s dad, Michael, decided to go to church and pray for their situation. It was that very same night that he received a phone call from a total stranger, and within minutes was on the phone with Dr. Frederick Boop – the Director of Neurosurgery at Le
Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Christopher’s parents believed he was at risk for another emergency surgery and decided it would be safer if he was close to Dr. Boop in Memphis. That very next day, Christopher and his parents drove nearly 400 miles from their home in Metairie, LA to meet with Dr. Boop. Just a week later, Christopher underwent surgery.

Christopher spent the next month in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Le Bonheur, where his parents never left his side. It was during a follow‐up visit that the Monisteres were able to stay at the FedExFamilyHouse and felt it was an absolute blessing.

“FedExFamilyHouse is a gift to families,” says Michael.

The Monistere family recently learned that Christopher’s tumor is completely gone. And even though he’ll still need regular scans and treatments, Christopher is doing great and the family is overjoyed that the tumor causing so much pain and suffering is no longer there.

Place of Comfort

Charles “Cam” McFadden was in preschool when his teacher noticed that he got physically ill over a particular smell that he detected in the same spot, every day. The only issue is that no one else, including the teacher, could smell it. Then, in kindergarten, the same issue resurfaced once again when Cam smelled something so strong he would feel sick to his stomach and vomit.

Multiple doctor visits confirmed that Cam had a perfectly healthy stomach. Although, with Cam still suffering from pain and nausea, Cam’s mother, Ashanti, and father, Brandon McFadden, decided they needed to take Cam to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital – nearly 2 hours away from their home.

Before arriving for Cam’s first appointment at Le Bonheur, Ashanti was overwhelmed by trying to figure out how they could afford gas and a hotel stay, as she had just recently undergone surgery herself. Fortunately, FedExFamilyHouse was there to lift that burden.

At Le Bonheur, doctors performed an endoscopy procedure that required Cam to wear a monitor for 72 hours to see how his body reacted to things in the environment. The procedure found that at just six years old, Cam was lactose intolerant.

Every day, Ashanti is learning how to best care for Cam, but she is thankful to have the support of the experts at Le Bonheur and FedExFamilyHouse. From the kindness shown when Cam experienced difficulties with his IV before the endoscopy to the selfless volunteers at FedExFamilyHouse, who care for the entire family, Ashanti says, “I just know this is going to be OK.”

The Place that Saved My Life

In 2002, within weeks of moving to Memphis to attend the Methodist School of Nursing, Shannon Hein-Wrenn was diagnosed with a relatively rare chest wall tumor. She initially walked into the Emergency Department at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital thinking she had pneumonia but was immediately transferred to Methodist University Hospital for further tests.

At Methodist University Hospital, doctors diagnosed Shannon’s chest wall tumor and eventually moved her into surgery. Imaging taken prior to surgery had revealed no visible margin between the tumor and her heart, which meant her procedure would be incredibly high-risk. “My entire life changed in a matter of hours,” said Shannon.

As a result of her surgery and being uninsured, Shannon faced financial implications that would put her dreams of becoming a nurse on hold for the unforeseen future. She instead jumped at the chance to take a clerical position with a contract company in the Germantown Health Information Management (HIM) department in 2005. Shannon eventually graduated from the University of Tennessee’s HIM program in 2008 and went to work for Methodist’s Corporate HIM department directly. In 2013, she finally decided to go back and achieve her longtime dream of becoming a nurse, and at no other than “the place that saved my life,” said Shannon.

Today, Shannon is an Emergency Department nurse at Methodist North Hospital. “The care I provide today was influenced by my time as a patient at Methodist over 15 years ago. I know that our patients often get life-changing news and that some may be alone and scared as I was. It was the nurses and aides that held my hand, hugged me and kept me smiling, in lieu of most of my family who were hundreds of miles away. I’m honored to be in the position to do the same for others today.”

Transplant Family Reflects on Life-Saving Experience with Gratitude

In 2013, Emily Bragorgos became very ill. After visiting multiple doctors to figure out what was wrong, a trip to the Emergency Room finally confirmed that she had end-stage liver disease. As Emily’s condition continued to worsen, she was referred to Methodist University Hospital’s Transplant Institute for a liver transplant.

As soon as the Bragorgos’ arrived, the transplant team went into action to get her on the waiting list for a liver. Within just a few short months, a match was located and Emily received a liver transplant by Dr. James Eason.

Emily seemed to be recovering well at first. Then, she began to feel sick and returned to Methodist University Hospital where she was told she would have to have another liver transplant. Fortunately, the second liver transplant was a success.

Looking back on Emily’s challenging experience, the Bragorgos’ give credit to the entire Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute for their exemplary care.

“From the ladies in the cafeteria who prayed with my husband, to the ladies who took care of me and helped me shower, to the doctors who were so steadfast in applying their knowledge – Methodist has a system that treats everybody so kindly. We were just treated gloriously,” said Emily.

In gratitude for all that they feel they’ve been given, Emily and Nick have chosen to give back to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in donations that benefit transplant patients and families. In addition, Nick serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

A New Heart

Mid-way through a routine ultrasound, Jasmine Christian’s doctor noticed several abnormalities with her daughter’s scans. Jasmine was immediately referred to Le Bonheur Children’s Fetal Center where her daughter, Jada, was diagnosed in utero at 22 weeks with heart block – a rhythm disorder – with congenital heart disease and heterotaxy syndrome. A disease where scientific literature says children like Jada don’t normally make it. 

“I was afraid, devastated and heartbroken. I was told early on that the odds were definitely against us. I wondered how this would play out. Is it worth the risk, will she be in pain?”, said Jasmine.

For eight weeks, a multidisciplinary team at Le Bonheur’s Fetal Center– one of fewer than 30 centers in the country focused entirely on babies diagnosed in utero with a congenital anomaly – developed a plan for Jada. The team included maternal fetal medicine specialists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric radiologists and pediatric cardiovascular surgeons.

When Jada was finally born full term on February 9th, 2017, she was immediately transferred to Le Bonheur’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit to be monitored and treated until she could get a new heart. On April 27th, Jasmine learned that her baby was going to get a transplant. The very next day, the surgical team performed a successful 10-hour operation on Jada.

Today, Jada is a happy and healthy one-year-old baby. “Jada loves playing with her big brothers, Cameron and Chandler. She enjoys taking baths and watching Strawberry Shortcake,” said Jasmine.

Time is Brain

In pediatric epilepsy patients, access to powerful tools can result in powerful outcomes. That’s a lesson Audrey and Romain Ibled learned during their son’s, Stanislas, three weeks of treatment at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Stan was only 10 months old when he experienced the first of what would become a series of mild seizures. After a multi-day study in Le Bonheur’s epilepsy monitoring unit and extensive testing, Stan’s doctors recommended an epilepsy gene panel – a test for more than 500 genes that are associated with seizures in young children. The results, their doctor warned, could take a month or more.

After only two weeks, the results came back for a gene that causes a specific type of epilepsy known as Pyridoxal 5’-phosphate-dependent epilepsy – or PLP. Unlike traditional seizure medicine, PLP must be treated with a vitamin cocktail taken four times a day. Within 48 hours of coming off the seizure medicine and being treated with the combination of vitamins, Stan was talking and eating.

“The next day, he started to pick up a toy, and was improving every day,” says Audrey. “Now he walks, when we thought he might never walk…he speaks…he’s our miracle baby,” said Aubrey. 

Stan is now two years old and celebrated one year without seizures this summer. He’s beginning to speak in English and also French. “He is where a two-year-old should be, exploring, laughing, playing and interacting with kids the same age. No one can imagine that a year ago, Stan was fighting for his life,” Audrey says.

From Heart Transplant to 5K

Like many teenage boys, Samuel Marshall was athletic, active and healthy. That’s why his mother, Auset, didn’t find herself overly concerned when Samuel began sniffling and sneezing. However, just a few days later, Samuel woke up to find the left side of his body immobile.

Auset immediately rushed Samuel to the nearest hospital, Methodist North, where everyone was shocked to learn he had suffered a stroke due to a blood clot on the right side of his brain. An IV medication was used to dissolve the blood clot, in hopes that it would help him regain mobility on the left side of this body.

Based on the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare stroke program protocol and additional testing that raised concerns about Samuel’s heart, a special team was called to transport him to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Samuel was immediately admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where his parents learned he was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy – a condition causing his heart to enlarge. The “cold” wasn’t really a cold at all. His heart wasn’t able to pump properly, which was causing fluid to be pushed out through his mouth and nose.

Over the next few weeks, Samuel’s condition continued to decline. Although it was a terrifying reality to face, it became apparent that the worst-case scenario was upon them – Samuel needed a heart transplant to save his life. Just four days later, the family received the call that would change his life forever – a donor heart was available.

On February 16, 2018,  just nine days after suffering a stroke, Samuel received a new heart. And today, he’s training to run a 5K. Samuel’s progress has been truly amazing. Although he hasn’t fully recovered, he seemed like he was back to his normal self just a week after his transplant operation.

Growing Friendship

Hannah Lawrence, 24, has struggled with uncontrolled seizures for the past decade, making day-to-day life, like driving, cutting hair in her family’s barber shop or going to the mall a challenge. Katie McCormick, 11, also knows how difficult life can be when a seizure suddenly strikes – at home, in the classroom or when she’s out with her family.

Hannah and Katie’s families, who both live in Brandon, Mississippi, have formed a special bond – a friendship that began when the families learned their daughters both suffer from epilepsy. Their bond grew stronger after Katie and Hannah both received life-changing treatment – the NeuroPace® RNS® therapy – which implants a device in their brains and is designed to reduce seizures. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the country that offers this life-changing care for epilepsy patients.

Their stories and struggles are very similar, and together they have created a lifelong friendship. In early May 2016, Hannah volunteered to cut Katie’s hair in preparation for her surgery. During their time together, Hannah offered words of encouragement.

“I told her everything is going to be fine and that I was a little girl when I went through this,” Hannah said. “I said to her, ‘You’re going to be better.’”

After more than 18 months with the RNS device, Hannah has become more independent which has allowed her to continue working with her dad at his shop. Katie’s seizures have also slowed because of the therapy she received at Le Bonheur, and she has become a more talkative and happy young girl.



Marvelous Marva

Marva Johnson has spent every Saturday morning for the last eight years volunteering in the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) unit – arriving in the pre-dawn hours to hold, feed, sing to and cuddle with the littlest patients. Like a physician, Marva makes her rounds at about 5:30, listening for the cry or coo of a baby in need.

“Often there is one that’s up and crying, that needs to be held, or needs to be fed,” says Marva. “I get gowned up, washed up, and go and get them.”

On top of her duties at Le Bonheur, Marva is the principal at Altruria Elementary School in Bartlett as well as an active member of the Highland Church of Christ. When asked if she has any children of her own, Marva always responds with “I have 825, and then 50,” referring to her 825 students and then the 50 babies that are in the NICU at any given time.

Marva’s love for the babies is so evident that her fellow church members, students and co-workers at Altruria Elementary have become a mighty force in supporting the hospital. From frequently treating the NICU nurses and staff to potluck lunches, to providing meals for families and staff at the hospital, she can always count on her support system to be there for her, the babies and the hospital.

Marva calls her volunteer work at Le Bonheur a blessing, but she is an equal blessing to Le Bonheur as both a volunteer and donor. She has even made Le Bonheur a beneficiary of part of her estate, creating a real legacy of love.

“This hospital is a part of my heart,” says Marva. “I’ve really been trying to think of what else can I do, even after I am gone … this is a way I can give a piece of myself.”

Every Prayer Answered

During a routine ultrasound visit, Lindsey Sater knew something wasn’t right when it doctors more than 30 minutes to review the images of her baby. It was then that she was told her son, Trennen, had holoprosencephaly - a disease where your brain doesn’t divide into two hemispheres - and that he may not make it past birth. Knowing the outcome, her doctor suggested the family terminate the pregnancy. 

“It was never even an option. I couldn’t imagine living with myself,” Lindsey said.

Having recently moved to Bentonville, Ark. just the month before, Lindsey didn’t have any friends or extended family nearby. Fetal medicine specialists recommended that the family move to Little Rock, Ark., or Memphis, Tenn., to give her child the optimal shot at life. She chose Memphis.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Trennen arrived. When the doctor held Trennen up for Lindsey to see, she was floored by what she saw. “His face looked normal. I asked if he was going to live. They said ‘yes.’ Every prayer I ever prayed was answered,” Lindsey said.

Trennen ended up not have holoprosencephaly, but was diagnosed with spina bifida - a condition in which the spinal cord fails to develop properly. Now 3, Trennen has a team of people at Le Bonheur helping him thrive. He receives occupational, speech and physical therapy, early intervention and inclusion support, so he can attend school while Lindsey works. 

“I’d be lost without Le Bonheur. I was so overwhelmed by his diagnosis. Le Bonheur Early Intervention and Development was my lifeline and my lighthouse as I learned to advocate for Trennen,” Lindsey said.



Curve Ball

Thomas Dillard was your typical student athlete who had a passion for all sports from a very early age. Thomas excelled at golf, soccer, football and basketball, but baseball was always his first love. He was such an excellent athlete that the University of Mississippi offered him a scholarship when he was only a freshman in high school. It was a dream come true for his family.

However, just three years before graduation, Thomas took a hard hit during a summer football scrimmage that threatened both his dreams and his life. Initially, Thomas thought he broke a rib but when he collapsed later, his dad, Tom, knew it was something worse. 

“I could tell he was in a lot of pain. He has a high threshold for pain. He’s the toughest human I know. I knew it was more than a broken rib,” Tom said.

In under an hour, Thomas was in surgery and doctors discovered that he was bleeding internally. Thomas’ parents were told that their son might not make it through surgery, but fortunately, he did.  

Three weeks later, Thomas’ mom was helping him out of bed when she discovered his sheets covered in blood – the wound from surgery had reopened. That’s when they called Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. As soon as they arrived, they knew they had made the right decision.

Upon entering the hospital, Thomas had a room full of nurses and doctors waiting for him. For weeks, the team worked on helping Thomas recover and heal from such a severe injury. After about a month of treatment, Thomas was finally healthy enough to leave the hospital.

Because of the treatment at Le Bonheur, Thomas was able to get back on the field and fulfill his dreams of playing college sports completely recovered. “To see our son run out on the field after so much adversity the last few years…” Tom said. “It was a very proud moment.”

Audio Stories

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