Healing What Love Can't Fix: Susanne Teel & The Clayton Family
"Bryan had five good days after he was born," Susanne Teel says, remembering the struggle to find out what was wrong with her son.
"They referred to him as a failure-to-thrive baby. That's the worst thing a mother can hear."
Even though Susanne went through this in the mid-'70s, the details are as clear as ever.
"I'll never forget trying and trying to find out what was wrong with Bryan," she says. "He couldn't digest his food and wasn't gaining weight the way he should have been."
After rushing Bryan to different specialists and pediatricians, someone finally recommended Children's Mercy. It was a life-changing moment.
"I can't explain it—words aren't enough," she says. "Gratitude, appreciation…Children's Mercy found the answer. They were able to heal what love can't fix."
At Children's Mercy, Susanne met two renowned surgeons: Keith Ashcraft, M.D., and Thomas Holder, M.D. They performed the surgery Bryan needed.
The procedure was called fundoplication and involved wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus to treat what was known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
"If you've been a parent and tried so hard to find out what was wrong with your child, you know what Children's Mercy is about," Susanne says. "I couldn't find the answer, but Children's Mercy could."
Saying Thank You
Susanne shows her appreciation in a meaningful way. She's part of Children's Mercy's Legacy Honor Roll and has named the hospital as a charitable beneficiary in her trust. "When your child is saved, what better way is there to say thank you for your blessing? I felt, please let me help others as I've been helped," she says.
Referral Saves Friends' Daughter
Years later, Susanne helped her close family friends by referring them to the hospital when they needed help—and answers—for their child. Jim and Jennifer Clayton adopted their daughter Olivia from China when she was 15 months old. They knew she had some things to be worked through, but nothing prepared them for the ordeal they would face as their baby girl grew up. They were powerless and scared for Olivia.
"Olivia experienced uncontrollable rages," Jennifer says. "When she was 5, my father called Susanne and said, ‘We need help, she's disappearing before our eyes.'
"We had an appointment at Children's Mercy the next day."
The Claytons' experience was similar to Susanne's: They searched fruitlessly for answers until they found Children's Mercy.
Olivia was diagnosed and treated for non-specified mood disorder. Within two weeks of being prescribed medication by Dr. Catherine Madden, her rages completely stopped.
"Our daughter's life was literally on the line," Jennifer says. "Children's Mercy gave us our little girl back."
"It was such a roller coaster," Jennifer's husband, Jim, says. "We would see windows of our daughter's loving personality, then they would slam shut.
"We prayed about it and Children's Mercy answered our prayers."