LONG BEACH, CA – On Thursday, Nov. 10, employees at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach gathered to celebrate the discharge of their patient, Jin, after being hospitalized for over a year. Members of the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program and his parents gathered in the Miller Children’s & Women’s playroom to say goodbye as he leaves the hospital.
Jin and his family moved from Japan to the United States in April of 2021 for a job opportunity, but soon after they settled in, Jin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He began chemotherapy at Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s, but because of his cancer type and the treatments he was receiving, Jin’s immune system was weakened immensely. Shortly after beginning treatment, he contracted a life-threatening flesh-eating fungal infection that ate away at part of his sinuses and brain, causing his care team to stop chemotherapy and switch gears to treat the infection.
Miller Children’s & Women’s brought together a pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist and a group of infectious disease specialists to treat the infection. The bridge of his nose and sinuses were impacted, so once the infection was under control, he underwent multiple surgeries where the team of expert pediatric surgeons reconstructed his face. At one point, Jin was visiting the operating room every two days. However, Jin and his family’s strength and positivity throughout all of his procedures continued to inspire and uplift his care teams.
“Jin is one of the most resilient, joyful kids I have ever met,” says Rita Goshert, director, Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. “Through every surgery and treatment, he stayed positive and took everything in stride. Not many of us can handle staying in the hospital, let alone for over a year.”
After over a year of surgeries and treatments, Jin finally gets to go home. The care team at Miller Children’s & Women’s is thrilled he is finally healthy enough to be discharged but are sad to see their little friend leave.
“Jin leaving the hospital is bittersweet,” says Tempe K. Chen, M.D., pediatric infectious disease physician, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. “He’ll still be around three times a week for various therapies, as well as once a week for doctor’s appointments, but he finally gets to go home and we’re all excited to see what he does next.”
Jin will continue to receive chemotherapy at Miller Children’s & Women’s until July of 2024.