Compassionate Care

The Ultimate Goal

Emma (pictured here as a high-school senior) was a patient at Shriners Children’s Texas and is now a practicing attorney and an activist.

At Shriners Children’s, our goal is to support patients in imagining a future full of possibility. No matter what a child’s challenges may be, Shriners Children’s is dedicated to fostering the well-being and resilience that kids need to reach for their goals. Here are some patients who are doing just that.

A voice for change

Emma is a tireless advocate for people who need help and for causes she believes in. A personal injury associate attorney in Houston, she fights for workers, consumers and injured people. Emma, 26, is passionate about civil rights, and since college, she has been involved in creating change surrounding issues of reproductive justice, public education, LGBTQ+ equality and voting rights. 

Emma, born with a cleft lip and palate, was adopted from China as a toddler.

Emma, who was born with a cleft lip and palate, was adopted from China just after her first birthday. After moving to the United States and getting settled with her new family, she became a patient of Shriners Children’s Texas, where she received treatments for more than 17 years. From the very beginning, the Shriners Children’s medical team made it clear to her parents that in addition to the hearing tests, speech therapy, surgeries and orthodontic work that Emma would receive, they would make supporting Emma’s self-esteem a priority. Emma grew up knowing she was brilliant, beautiful, strong and would change the world.

Emma attended Texas State University (where she was on the Dean’s List each semester and graduated magna cum laude) and the University of Houston Law Center. She received 19 scholarships and awards during her time in college and law school.

In high school, Emma created the “Cleft Community” Instagram account (@CleftCommunity). The Cleft Community network supports and empowers people who were born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate and is a resource for families and friends of people with that condition. 

Emma enjoys spending time with her family, friends and her girlfriend, Valerie. Emma said that to her, living a full, productive and meaningful life means living with a purpose, by helping others and experiencing the best things in life. She believes she does this through her work as a plaintiff’s attorney and as an activist, but also as a daughter, friend and partner. 

A class act

Jan, who was treated for a rare congenital disorder as a child, is an accomplished professor and researcher.

Her students at the University of Nebraska Kearney know Jan as a tough professor, but a generous one. A former Shriners Children’s patient, Jan conducts research on hearing loss and speech production and teaches undergraduate and graduate classes. While she loves connecting with her students and even shares her homemade desserts with them, she maintains high expectations. It’s a mix that works, and Jan loves hearing from former students about how she changed their lives and cared deeply for them.

The 64-year-old has a long list of accomplishments – earning a doctorate, studying as a Fulbright scholar in Canada, becoming a wife and mother, teacher and researcher. It’s what her medical team at Shriners
Children’s always wanted for her: to lead a full, productive life, pursuing her passions.

Jan was born with a rare congenital disorder called proximal femoral focal deficiency. A malformation of her femur and hip led to her right leg being shorter than her left. Over a 14-year period, Jan had a series of surgeries, starting at the Shriners Children’s in Shreveport, Louisiana, and continuing at the Shriners Children’s Hawai’i location when her family moved to Honolulu. Surgeries were followed by months-long stays in the hospital and intense physical therapy.

“As challenging as it was to have the surgeries, spend a lot of time on my stomach because of the full-body casts or walk to school in braces, I have a lot of fond memories during my time in Hawai’i,” Jan said. “The Shriners provided me with really great care … and hope,” she said.

Jan had months-long stays at Shriners Children’s Hawai’i.

Jan credits her childhood experiences with defining her career and lifestyle. “When you have a disability and you get such great care, you want to give back because you are more empathetic,” she said. 

For Jan, living a meaningful life means being able to give of herself and motivate others, to change people’s lives and help them succeed. 

A tenacious researcher

Our healthcare system’s multidisciplinary teams are dedicated to providing the best medical treatment possible and helping patients reach for their dreams. For Jennifer, a former patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Mexico, that means contributing to the world’s store of medical knowledge through rare disease research.

Jennifer, 39, is studying for a doctorate in medical research in the field of molecular biology at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), a top technical and engineering university in Mexico. She also collaborates on research projects at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.  

Jennifer spent much of her childhood going through treatments for a rare disorder. She is now studying for her doctorate in medical research.

Jennifer has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a rare condition characterized by joint stiffness and muscle weakness throughout the body. She was also born with a congenital hip dislocation and
clubfoot. Jennifer’s mother said her baby spent her first days of life in a hospital undergoing painful treatments. Then a doctor suggested the family go to Shriners Hospitals.

After that, Jennifer said, “My life changed forever.” 

The comprehensive treatment she received there, including psychological care, nutritional consultations and surgeries, instilled in Jennifer and her family that there are no limits in life. “The Shriners Children’s  healthcare system planted within me, from a very young age, the tenacity with which I grew throughout my life,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer has been honored with incentives and recognition for her perseverance and tenacity. She received a scholarship to study in China, where she had the opportunity to climb the Great Wall.

“Even though I have a disability, and even though I had a total hip replacement nine years ago, I am a happy person,” Jennifer said. “I owe it all to Shriners Hospitals.”