The stories in this book are real. They are the stories of children, families, doctors, and nurses, most of whom have come through the doors of Children’s National, and meaningfully touched the lives of those who have worked with them. In some cases, I have changed the names or certain identifying details of patients to protect their privacy; in others, all details are unchanged.
This book started where many end up—in a book club. One of the members of that great group of friends, Greg Jordan, is a writer, and one windy November night in a house overlooking the Chesapeake Bay Greg asked me to share a few stories of the patients who’d affected me the most over the years. I was the chief of surgery at the time, and Greg encouraged me to make notes about these amazing children. Once I became the CEO of Children’s National, he helped me turn their stories into a book that could shine a light on the progress we are making in pediatric medicine and the hurdles we still face. Writing these stories and expressing these ideas was as demanding as any intense surgical challenge. As a collaborator and friend, Greg has been with me every step of the way as I wrote this book.
While Greg was helping me, he and his wife, Ali, had their own pediatric crisis. The story of their son Ezekiel and his twin brother, Lukas, became a part of this book. Greg credits the book with saving Ezekiel’s life. His experience helped me to understand how important it was to empower parents and give them the tools to know what questions to ask in medical emergencies, and how to access the best possible care for their children.