5 amazing things that happened at Children’s of Alabama in 2021, including a new cancer treatment

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5 amazing things that happened at Children’s of Alabama in 2021, including a new cancer treatment
Children’s of Alabama has helped bring smiles to patients’ faces all year. Photo via Children’s of Alabama

Want to know one of the most amazing things that sets Birmingham apart? It’s home to Children’s of Alabama, the only freestanding medical center in the state that solely focuses on treating children. We’re celebrating five of the best things that happened at Children’s of Alabama this year.

1. A new cancer treatment for a type of pediatric leukemia ❤️

Children's of Alabama Dr. Kutny
Thanks to research from Dr. Matthew Kutny, patients like Asher can have better outcomes in their cancer journeys. Photo via Patrick Deavours, Children’s of Alabama

We dream of a world without cancer, and thanks to strides from Children’s of Alabama and UAB doctors, we could be one step closer. A Children’s of Alabama and UAB doctor, Matthew Kutny, M.D., led a study that brought about a new treatment option for children with a specific type of leukemia. The research shows that the drug combination from their clinical trials is more effective and reduces the need for chemotherapy. In some cases, it even eliminates it.

“As a pediatrician and an oncologist, I’ve had to have really difficult talks with families about what their child is facing and what type of therapy they’re going to have to go through to be cured. So being able to offer a therapy that is less intense and has fewer side effects, but at the same time has amazingly high survival rates, is a really good feeling.”

Matthew Kutny, M.D.

2. 40 years of Over the Mountain Pediatrics, an all-female practice 🎉

Over the Mountain Pediatrics
Happy 40th, Over the Mountain Pediatrics! Photo via Children’s of Alabama

We love a good birthday celebration, and this year, multiple pediatric practices at Children’s had big ones. Children’s began in 1911, and in the past century, they’ve had a big job taking care of the smallest patients.

Over the Mountain Pediatrics, a female-run practice, celebrated its 40th anniversary on September 22. The practice was founded by two full-time pediatricians and working mothers, Drs. Elizabeth Hodges and Lillian Israel. What’s cool is that the practice treats patients from multiple generations.

That isn’t the only anniversary, though. Mayfair Medical Group of Homewood celebrated its 50th anniversary on June 25.

3. A designation as a NORD Rare Disease Center of Excellence 🙌

Patient and doctor
Here, patients are surrounded by smiles + amazing care. Photo via Children’s of Alabama

The National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) designated Children’s and UAB as NORD Rare Disease Centers of Excellence in 2021. What does that mean, exactly? Glad you asked, because this is a big deal.

With the title, they join a network of 31 medical centers collaborating to expand access and enhance research for rare disease patients. Rare diseases affect 25-30 million Americans every year, and they come with multiple challenges surrounding clinical care. Why were Children’s and UAB Medicine selected? Their staffs are full of experts across multiple specialties, and they contribute to patient education and research. Now, they’ll be able to do even more!

4. A new app to help the caregivers of children with cancer 📲

Parents and caregivers of children with cancer have plenty to deal with. That’s why Children’s started the KidsCare App. Now, caregivers have easy access to accurate information throughout their child’s cancer journey—all at the touch of a phone.

“I wish the app had been available to use since day one. Having access to resources that we knew were accurate made all the difference. There is too much information out there online, and it can be overwhelming. On the app, we had information specific to Cole’s care.”

Madison Murphy, Parent

PS—while the app got its start at Children’s, it’s now been adopted by over 200 hospitals in the Children’s Oncology Group, a worldwide organization devoted to pediatric cancer research. Talk about an amazing impact!

5. A promising viral immunotherapy for pediatric brain tumors 👏

Patient and doctor
What amazing things will happen at Children’s next year? Photo via Children’s of Alabama

Researchers from UAB and Children’s presented findings last spring about a viral immunotherapy with early signs of clinical effectiveness in pediatric patients with high-grade brain tumors. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to improve cancer treatments, and this study is a first of its kind: the first using delivery of a viral immunotherapy directly into the tumor.

Want to keep up with the awesome things happening at Children’s of Alabama in 2022? Be sure to follow their website, Facebook and Instagram.

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Cecilia Wood
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