Fort Worth, Texas,
10:07 AM

Why Children like Olivia Need You to Immunize

This is my sweet patient Olivia.

Olivia is 7 years old and has fought a battle that most 7 year olds (and 70 year olds) have never and will never face.

Olivia has spent the last two years in and out of Cook Children’s battling neuroblastoma. It was a cancer that started in her adrenal gland and had spread by the time it was found – around her spine, and all over her stomach.

She is a tough cookie. Olivia has undergone countless procedures, tests and chemotherapy. And in 2017, Olivia underwent something called an autologous stem cell transplant.

This means that before chemo, her own stem cells (which you can think of as neutral “beginner” cells) were taken from her bone marrow, harvested, and after the chemo wiped everything out, put back into her bone marrow as a “fresh start” for her immune system! It was a huge part of her cancer treatment.

This also means that all of the “memory cells” she used to have are gone.

And it means that the vaccines she got as an infant and small child are “forgotten”.

So Olivia now has no protection against vaccine-preventable illness. Her immune system is like a baby’s again.

When she came to see me for her checkup last week, I hadn’t seen her in two years! She was bouncing all over the room, and smiling, and happy. Like 7 year olds should be! She’s doing great! Her oncologist is watching her very closely, but her cancer seems to be gone!

I know that’s a lot of exclamation marks, but all deserved for this awesome little girl.

We now have to start re-vaccinating Olivia. This is a slow process that will take a few years. Until she is fully vaccinated, she is susceptible to illnesses like whooping cough, pneumonia, measles and others.

I’m telling you Olivia’s story (at the urging of her father, who wants you to know her story) so that you understand why everyone should be immunized.

Olivia CAN’T be immunized fully yet. Her body needs time to re-learn all of her vaccine protection.

If all of us AROUND Olivia get vaccinated, we are creating an impenetrable wall of protection. The disease cannot get into our community to potentially attack Olivia’s brand new immune system.

When you make a choice to vaccinate yourself and your child, you also prevent something devastating to those who cannot protect themselves – like Olivia.

And she’s fought too hard a battle to look back now!

Learn more by clicking the links below:

Get to know Diane Arnaout, M.D.

"Dr. Diane Arnaout is a pediatrician at the Cook Children's Forest Park practice. If you would like to see her at Forest Park, call 817-336-3800 or click here for an appointment. Dr. Diane has been a Cook Children’s physician since 2011.

She got her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University, went to medical school at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, and completed her pediatric residency in the Texas Medical Center at UT Health Science Center in Houston.

She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She has two small kids, whom she credits as being her toughest (and best) teachers. She loves being a pediatrician and loves to teach parents all about their childrens’ health daily, both in-person and online.”

Click to learn more.

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