Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Hospital team helps child transplant families

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published March 20, 2015

ATLANTA—The Cantrell family is grateful for the expertise of physicians and staff at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. U.S. News & World Report ranks the hospital fourth in the nation for pediatric heart care and heart surgeries.

The comprehensive care provided at Children’s includes assistance from a child life specialist.

Mary Duncan, who is Grace Cantrell’s child life specialist, said struggles for transplant families range from caring for other children, to financial uncertainties and emotional issues.

“There are many different feelings and emotions that come along with being hospitalized and Grace’s family did a wonderful job coping with stressors while in the hospital,” said Duncan.

Duncan works with five to 10 families daily, some outpatient and others hospitalized. Not all have family or church support, and the staff at Children’s works to fill in gaps and offer resources to all. Duncan teaches both patients and parents positive coping techniques for medical procedures and the hospitalization itself.

“We have a family support services team that is made up of child life, social work, and chaplaincy who provide support to the families while they are hospitalized,” said Duncan. “We also have a program called Kids at Heart, sponsored by the Children’s Sibley Heart Center, which allows families and caregivers of children with congenital heart defects to come together and share their experiences and stories together.”

Another offering, the Cardiac Family Mentor program, connects a family dealing with new challenges with a family who has been through a similar experience.