Supporting the Hospital’s Unsung Heroes

Published on

“These specialists are truly amazing and the therapies they provide for children and their families are extraordinary.”

“They have been essential in making the hospitalization less traumatic.”

Child Life worker playing dolls with oncology patient These are the ways families talk about a remarkable team at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): the staff of the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department.

For one mother whose daughter underwent radiation therapy for a brain tumor, the team was indispensable. “The child life specialists treated Elena like a queen,” says Lina. “But it wasn’t just Elena — it was a family affair. Child life was amazing because they really involved our son and helped him deal with the idea of his sister getting ‘lasers’ for her tumor.”

Such praise comes as no surprise to John DeMaio, MD. He calls the child life specialists “the incredibly important unsung heroes” of the hospital. He has seen their work up close: John completed both his residency in Pediatrics and fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at CHOP. “Something I appreciated in my training was that these were children first and patients second,” he says, and the child life experts help kids be kids regardless of their medical issues.

John has pivoted his career to marketing and business development within the healthcare field, but he cherishes his clinical time and CHOP’s role in his life. During his estate planning in 2017, John decided to make CHOP a priority — in particular, the Child Life Department. His support will ensure that their work, which is crucial to healing, will continue and grow, and he hopes he can inspire other CHOP alumni to make similar gestures of appreciation.

This is just one of the many stories of donor impact that happened during the campaign For Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs.