After reading your issue America's Best Children's Hospitals [June 9], I felt compelled to write to you and tell you about our recent and ongoing experience with, what I believe, is the best Children's facility in the United States: Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis.
On May 2 of this year, my 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor after months of doctors' appointments and tests for vision and coordination problems. The neurosurgeon met with us and she went into emergency surgery that night. The neurosurgeon at the hospital was an adult surgeon and told us that if it was his child, he would take her to a pediatric neurosurgeon—so that initiated our quest to find the best in the country. My husband sent our daughter's MRI and CAT scan films across the country; actually speaking with many neurosurgery teams—from New York to Denver. After a week of searching, we determined the best place to take our daughter was to Memphis, to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center. Le Bonheur works closely with St. Jude Chidlren's Research Hospital, and since we weren't sure what type of tumor she had, or what treatment (surgery, chemo, radiation) would work, we went to the place that specializes in all treatments. Once there, we met with Dr. Fredrick Boop, one of four pediatric neurosurgeons at Le Bonheur. And from our very first meeting with him, we knew we had taken our baby to the right facility. On Monday, May 12, my daughter went into surgery to have a biopsy. Several days later, the pathology reports confirmed what Dr. Boop had suspected—she had a pituitary adenoma. The staff at Le Bonheur presented my daughter's case to the Tumor Review group at St. Jude's (which consists of doctors from St. Jude's and Le Bonheur of all specialties) to determine what treatment options were available and what would most effective on a tumor this size. On Tuesday, May 22, the OR came and took her down to the operating waiting room. The surgery took less time than they thought it would and Dr. Boop seemed pleased with how things went. In the end, they were able to get 90% of the tumor and were able to remove the internal shunt that was placed a week earlier! During our stay at Le Bonheur, we heard of many stories when patients were told by other facilities that there was no hope for their children or that the procedures were too risky to perform. The neurosurgeons at Le Bonheur took on those cases and many, if not all, were successful. While in Memphis, we were fortunate to meet two families that had little girls that were diagnosed with rare brain tumors and treated at Le Bonheur over a year ago. To see how well they're doing and to talk with the parents on their experiences made a world of difference to us. The doctors and staff at Le Bonheur were second to none. Because of our extended stay at the hospital, they became our family there, and we love each and every one of them. I just wanted you to know that Le Bonheur helped save the life of our little girl and has helped countless other children. I believe that because of the skilled hands of the neurosurgeons and the devotion of the other doctors and nurses, my daughter will have the chance to be a normal, active child with a bright future. This is one parent's story and, hopefully, our experience will introduce you to a future candidate for America's Best Children's Hospitals.