Duke Children’s Hospital Radiothon spotlights patient successes

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:48 AM

Over the loudspeakers, Courtney Montgomery’s voice reverberated across the lobby of Duke Children’s Hospital as she shared her long journey to recovery, how she received a new heart almost three years ago at 16.

Over the radio, Montgomery shared with the world how Duke Hospital saved her, how her 17-year-old donor remains in her mind years later.
Duke Children’s was nearing the end of the first day of its annual fundraising radiothon, when patients get to talk about their roads to recovery on MIX 101.5. Dozens of volunteers take calls, and the money raised goes toward services such as craft supplies, meals and parking passes for low-income families, and games for clinic areas.
Montgomery was diagnosed early on with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Her heart muscle was too thick to pump blood. But after a successful transplant and a graduation last year from Duke’s Hospital School, in which she completed her senior year of high school, she’s back.
She watched in the lobby Tuesday as younger patients ran around.
“A lot of children, when they’re here, when they’re young, grow up here,” she said. “... (Duke) saved my life, so I gotta give back.”
Volunteers took turns erasing a whiteboard to tally new donations. By about 5 p.m., they were surpassing $42,000 and trying to reach $100,000 for a match from Walmart.
Michelle Krawczyk held the leash to her family’s service dog, a terrier mix named JJ, who was sprawled out on the floor in front of the information desk. Moments before, Krawczyk and her daughter, KK, talked about their time at Duke Children’s.
KK was diagnosed with mastocytosis when she was 2 months old. Chemicals are released in her body that cause allergic reactions, such as drops in blood pressure, trouble breathing and vomiting.
Her dog can sense when the chemical balance of her body changes.
Krawczyk said before Duke, she felt like her daughter was being treated with help from Google, since it’s such a rare disease. Duke even allowed JJ into the operating room when KK underwent a procedure last year.
Across the room, Lisa McKeown helped sell T-shirts for the fundraiser. Some T-shirts read, “Where Superheroes Find Their Superheroes.”
McKeown said her youngest son, Ian, was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2009 and couldn’t be treated using medication. In 2010, they visited Duke Children’s, and “the very first day, we walked out of here with a plan.”
Ian underwent a temporal lobe resection, which removed the portion of his brain causing his intense seizures. He hasn’t had one since the surgery.
“It is just so important to me to give back to them,” McKeown said of Duke, “because I feel like they gave us so much.”
Visit www.dukechildrens.org/giving/events/radiothon for more information on how to give.