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2017: Photos that defined our year

Our year was defined by compassion, heroism, innovation and philanthropy from the patients, providers and volunteers that walk the halls of our hospitals and clinics every day.

From the unveiling of a new therapeutic space for children to the announcement of a creative outlet for pediatric patients, from miraculous surgeries separating conjoined twins to life-saving immunotherapies—these are the photos and stories defined our year at University of Minnesota Health.

Below, you’ll find stories of compassion, heroism and philanthropy, all from the patients, providers and volunteers that walk the halls of our care centers every day.

Zuzia’s new skin

Zuzia Macheta, 9, was born with a devastating skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), which caused her skin to blister and tear from even minor contact. Thanks to a fundraising campaign, Zuzia came to Minnesota from Poland for an innovative treatment from Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Physician Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD. After a bone marrow transplant and special stem cell infusions, Zuzia’s life has changed for the better. She is now able to take baths, hug her sister and do other simple activities that many of us may take for granted. Read her story.

New Wellness Center puts self-care at arm’s reach for patients, families

Like many parents of critically ill children, mom Tori Ostlund did not want to leave University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital while her daughter Summer was being treated for a rare heart condition. To help family members like Tori whose children are in the hospital, we opening the Blythe Brenden-Mann Foundation Wellness Center. Located on the fifth floor of the hospital, the Wellness Center will include an exercise area, a salon and an integrative therapies space—all so that our families can have access to self-care during lengthy hospital stays. The center will also host educational programs for families. Read more about the Wellness Center here.

Connected at the heart

At birth, Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez were already a medical rarity. Then, the conjoined twins—who were born connected by the chest, liver and heart—became even more extraordinary. A University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital team successfully performed a groundbreaking series of surgeries to separate them and save their lives. Their profound story is filled with joy, innovation and courage. Learn more about their journey here.

A decade later, our care providers reflect on the I-35W bridge collapse

The collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis in 2006 is seared into the history of the city—but that accident defined our then-fledgling Trauma Center at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. The closest hospital to the north side of the bridge, in August 2006 the Trauma Center took in and treated many of the bridge collapse victims only a month after the program began. The lessons learned following the bridge collapse continue to inform how trauma experts at University of Minnesota Medical Center care for patients today.

Immunotherapy helps Shelley, an artist

Appreciative patients often give their doctors “thank you” gifts or messages—but they don’t craft them custom-made bronze statues in gratitude. Cancer patient Shelley Kerr did just that. Kerr gave Urologist Badrinath Konety, MD, and Medical Oncologist Gautam Jha, MD, a pair of statues after they treated her urothelial carcinoma that began in her left kidney and later spread. Thanks to an immunotherapy treatment and a relentlessly upbeat attitude, Kerr is healthy and back to living life. Read her story.

A gift of life

Emson lived with congestive heart failure for more than three years before his health worsened and he was added to the heart transplant list. In October, after a six-week stay in the intensive care unit, Emson became the 900th person to receive a heart transplant through University of Minnesota Health. While waiting for a new heart, Emson said, he at times grew doubtful and felt like giving up, but the thought of his kids and family gave him strength and positivity. Learn more about Emson’s heart transplant.

New clinical trial may offer functional cure for severe type 1 diabetes

Greg Romero can’t run or hide from his type 1 diabetes, which is why he’s one of a handful of people in the world participating in a new clinical trial that’s studying whether pancreatic progenitor cells, transplanted into a person with type 1 diabetes, can become cells that produce insulin naturally—effectively curing the disease. Greg’s story—and the clinical trial—became one of our most-viewed stories of the year, and made headlines across the state. Read more about the new treatment.

Doctors and patients celebrate pioneering pancreas transplant procedure

Fifty years ago, doctors at the University of Minnesota performed the first-ever pancreas transplant in the world. Since then more than 50,000 pancreas transplants have been performed worldwide and University of Minnesota care teams have completed 2,300 of those, more than any other transplant center in the world. Half a century on, our patients and care teams looked back at the stunning achievement that continues to save lives and advance medicine. Read more about Joanie, who is one of many who benefitted from this advance in care.

Pledging $160,000, Zucker family kicks off fundraising for new family-friendly suite and broadcast studio

Like his Vikings friend and football counterpart Kyle Rudolph, Jason Zucker has become a staple and frequent visitor and volunteer at Masonic Children’s Hospital. This year, Zucker and his wife Carly took it one step further, pledging $160,000 to jumpstart fundraising for the new Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio. With a state-of-the-art broadcast studio and fully outfitted theater, the space will give patients a creative outlet and allow them to watch their favorite sports teams live.

Kyle Rudolph unveils new End Zone at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

For three years, Kyle and Jordan Rudolph dreamed of creating a child- and teen-friendly space for patients and families at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. This year, that dream became a reality. The space is just the latest in a string of philanthropic initiatives the Minnesota Vikings player has spearheaded at the hospital. In December, the Rudolphs hosted the second annual Rudy’s Red Eye Express, a special event that transports children and families to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole.