Mathew's Story 

Thursday, August 16, 2012 9:20:07 AM

My son Mathew was born with a Port Wine Stain birthmark covering his left cheek and eye area. His birthmark is a vascular birthmark which has an excessive blood flow to the area causing discoloration and possible growth of tissue. We were told he would need 3-5 laser treatments to remove the birthmark and that we should start as soon as we could. Mathew was 3 months old when he had his first treatment, which required him to be put under anesthesia in the surgical department. At that time I was not aware of everyone’s roles that came in to check on Mathew and speak to my husband and I.

As Mathew grew older we found out that 3-5 laser treatments were not enough. In his toddler years he was still going in for laser treatments in the surgical department every 3-4 months. This is when I realized the role of Child Life specialists. Their role is to calm the child and family about any procedures or concerns. By this time we were veterans, but the Child Life specialist would take Mathew to a closet to pick out games to play while he waited or they would give him a stuffed animal to take home. Child Life specialist would visit us before and after procedures to make sure Mathew was comfortable and all of our concerns were answered.

Today Mathew is 12 years old and is still receiving treatments as an outpatient to keep his birthmark from becoming distended. We are no longer focused on removal of the birthmark, just keeping it healthy!

I feel that Child Life did a wonderful job at keeping Mathew occupied while waiting for surgery. Now I have the opportunity to give back and help them refill their closets and replace some games, toys, or stuffed animals.

I am positive that there is more to a Child Life Specialist role than what I know, but I am grateful for the help they gave us and for the fun they brought Mathew.