Johnna’s Story

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As a little girl, Johnna knew Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as a place her dad volunteered. But when she was a teenager, the Hospital became the place that saved her life.

“I was 14 years old and at a local track meet,” Johnna says. “I’d always been athletic, but on that day, I could barely make my way around the track without collapsing.”

She thought she could push through the pain and discomfort; her parents knew she needed a doctor. The family pediatrician took one look at Johnna and immediately sent her to CHOP’s Emergency Department.

A troubling diagnosis

Johnna was admitted to the Hospital and clinicians spent several days performing tests to determine what was causing her symptoms.

“Clinicians pumped me full of liters and liters of blood, and ran a bunch of tests. They even did a bone marrow biopsy,” Johnna says. “That’s when I knew just how sick I was.”

Johnna was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and needed immediate treatment.

While much of this time in her life remains a blur, Johnna says she clearly remembers the way she was treated by the staff at CHOP.

“The clinicians explained everything to me in clear, concise and compassionate terms,” she says. “I felt like a partner in my recovery from the very beginning.”

Determining treatment

Treatment for aplastic anemia often includes a bone marrow transplant from a matched donor. When none of Johnna’s five siblings were a match, her doctors discussed other treatment options.

They decided to start Johnna on hormone therapy to stimulate production of her own bone marrow. After treatments three times a week for months, the hormone therapy finally worked.

“This breakthrough treatment and my tireless team of experts saved my life,” Johnna says. “How could I ever say thank you?”

Giving back

Today, Johnna is nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit at Children’s Hospital. As a staff member at CHOP, she comes to work with a promise: “I will always strive to deliver an unparalleled, compassionate care experience for my patients.”

She’s also a donor who believes strongly that philanthropy can turn “breakthrough ideas and innovations into real solutions that children and families need right now.”

“I’m living proof that your generosity, in terms of both of your time and your financial investment, makes a difference in the lives of real people,” she says.