Swimming with the Sharks….!
What would you do if you could do anything you wanted to do, regardless of the limits of your strength or endurance? What is your dream?
Seven-year-old Finnley Foster dreams of soaring through the ocean, diving deep and playing with the creatures of the sea, being free to frolic with fishes and octopi, sea horses and especially… sharks.
Finn LOVES sharks!
She has been a Texas Children’s Hospital patient for the past year, receiving care in our Pediatric Hospital Medicine Complex Care wing. At 7 years old, she has had a lot of challenges in her life. Finn was born with an I-kappa B-alpha mutation, which spawned severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). This has resulted in a number of significant health concerns, which brought her to Texas Children’s Hospital in 2021.
Finn and her family are from Montana. After having two bone marrow transplants in 2017, she later suffered a neurological event and had to relearn how to talk and move. She has not been able to walk since then. In August 2021, when she was 6 years old, Finn suffered a cardiac arrest and another stroke. Her family brought her to Houston for rehabilitation care. In November, her blood pressure spiked and couldn’t be controlled, and she was brought to the Texas Children’s Hospital Emergency Center. She’s been receiving care from the experts in the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Complex Care Service ever since and has only been out of the hospital for 11 weeks over the past year.
So where are the sharks in this story? Finn and her family have become very close to her care team. Physician assistant Michelle Wilkinson knows Finn very well both medically and personally and goes the extra mile to help create fun experiences for her. Finn’s dad, Patrick Foster and his fiancé, Victoria, took some respite time away from the hospital and went to Galveston. Her dad kept talking about how he wasn’t going to go in the water because of sharks, and Finn and Victoria joked that they definitely would go in. Michelle took things on from there.
Coordinating with Texas Children’s media team, a green screen was brought to the unit, and Finn had the starring role in a short CGI film, complete with a JAWS soundtrack and movie posters. She had her time in the spotlight, highlighting her dream of swimming with the sharks.
This project underscores the fantastic teamwork at Texas Children’s and the work done to create an outstanding patient experience. The continuity of care provided by the Complex Care Clinic team and the long-term relationships they build with patients and their families enable projects like this to happen.
A few random conversations with Finn and her family developed into a cross-departmental experience that was creatively developed, bringing joy to a patient who has experienced so many challenges.
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