Six-year-old Emma Blair says she’s “happy to bring a smile to others” as the featured patient for the month of February in CHoR’s 2016 Tid*Bits calendar. Photographed in a lab coat to illustrate a research-themed article, Emma says her favorite part of the experience was watching staff make “potions” for the beakers she held in the picture. “It was so much fun,” she says. “I love smiling for the camera.”
Emma is an enthusiastic first grader at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Richmond. Art and religion are her favorite subjects, but she says she likes science a lot too and is currently learning “about the stages of life in nature” in her science class. At home she likes to spend time doing arts and crafts and playing the piano.
“We felt very proud and honored that Emma was featured in the calendar,” her mom Tricia says. “We love being able support CHoR.”
In addition to sharing Emma’s beautiful smile in the calendar, the Blair family has supported CHoR’s other outreach initiatives by sharing their personal story. “We are thrilled to be able to bring awareness to patients who have cleft lip/cleft palate and to talk about the great services that CHoR offers for all its patients,” Tricia explains. Read on to learn more about Dr. Jennifer Rhodes and how her craniofacial team helped Emma smile.
Before they adopted Emma from China, Tricia and her husband Ed knew she had been born with a cleft palate that would need to be repaired when they brought her to their home in Henrico. They met with specialists in the Center for Craniofacial Care in advance, and the surgery was completed when Emma was only 18-months-old, just three months after she arrived in the United States.
Since then, Emma and her family have returned to the craniofacial clinic every six months where she has seen a dentist, audiologist, ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist), psychologist, plastic surgeon and speech pathologist. The team makes sure Emma is on the right track and collaborates on any clinical recommendations, such as issues with her speech or orthodontic work.
“We appreciate having the specialists all at the same facility when we attend clinic,” Ed says. “It makes it easier on Emma and on us as a family to travel to only one facility instead of many.”
Emma received speech services through her local school district and was discharged earlier this month. She will continue with home therapy to work on articulation, volume and speech patterns. She recently started losing teeth and has “graduated” to seeing an orthodontist as part of continuing visits with her craniofacial team. Emma’s next clinic appointment is in May at CHoR’s new Children’s Pavilion which Tricia says their family “can’t wait to see and experience.”
Emma’s medical team at CHoR has been part of her life for nearly six years. “Throughout everything, we also like that the specialists talk to Emma directly, and explain things to her as well as to us,” Tricia adds. “She has a big personality, and they all know her well and have developed real relationships with her.”
When asked what she likes best about the relationships she’s developed, Emma’s answer is more straightforward: “They adore me, and I adore them!”
Editor’s Note: This “Meet our Calendar Kids” blog series highlights children featured in CHoR’s 2016 Tid*Bits calendar. We’d like to thank all patients, siblings and parents who participated this year. Click here if you’d like to receive future issues of the Tid*Bits calendar and newsletters. We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Emma, our featured patient for February 2016.
Information contributed by Children’s Hospital Foundation