An innocent victim struck by a stray bullet, 14-year-old Tanessa Starnes was rushed into the emergency room at Children’s National, bleeding and with no heartbeat. Calmly, a young surgeon opened her chest, used his finger to plug the bullet hole, and massaged her heart with his hands until it began beating once again.
Thirty years later, that young surgeon, now the president and CEO of Children’s National, still vividly remembers that day and Tanessa’s recovery after. “Late the next day I went to the ICU to see her,” Kurt Newman, MD, writes in his new book Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine. “Even with the breathing tube in her mouth, she managed a huge smile that knocked my socks off.” Tanessa’s traumatic injury, treatment, and recovery is one of many patient stories that populate the book, which traverses Dr. Newman’s years from medical school student to skilled pediatric surgeon to the head of one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals.
[Watch the interview with Dr. Newman and Tanessa 30 years later.]
But Healing Children is more than a collection of stories, it’s a compendium of lessons learned by Dr. Newman over his more than 30 years in pediatric medicine—lessons he’s sharing to help ensure more children can receive the care they need and deserve. “I wrote this book to help parents get the best health care for their children,” he said. "I want to spark a national conversation about children’s health. We need more children’s hospitals and trauma centers. More children should be seen by pediatric specialists. And we should put more resources as a nation into pediatric research.”
Funding for pediatric research through philanthropy is essential to the work being done at Children’s National, which is why proceeds from Healing Children will go to the Pediatric Health Opportunity Fund, a charity supporting research and innovation at Children's National and other research centers.
While the core of Healing Children is built around what he's learned over more than 30 years at Children's National, Dr. Newman believes that continuing groundbreaking research is critical to ensuring the hospital's (and Washington, DC's) place at the forefront of caring for children.
"There are so many opportunities in front of us to lead, to develop therapies, and innovations and be creative," Dr. Newman said in a recent Washington Business Journal interview about the book. "With our Walter Reed campus, we can bring research and innovation in children to a sweet spot environment. Washington, DC, can be the ultimate leader in pediatric research and medicine and transform the field."
Visit ChildrensNational.org/book to make a donation to help children heal at Children’s National, and visit Dr. Newman's Medium page to learn more about the book and join the conversation.