Blackhawks score with sports fans at Comer Children's Hospital

February 26, 2009

February 26, 2009 William Stark Jr., 4, diagnosed with neuroblastoma, is delighted to do some bubble blowing with Blackhawks defenseman Aaron Johnson.

Breaking from their winning season, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Aaron Johnson and left wing Andrew Ladd made children and teens feel like All-Stars during a visit to the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital.

Johnson said he came to give patients a short reprieve from their treatments and put smiles on their faces. He and Ladd certainly did, as they went from room to room in the pediatric Intensive Care Unit, oncology floor, and playroom, talking with patients and their families about everything from the Blackhawks season and if they liked the Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine.

Johnson said he came to give patients a short reprieve from their treatments and put smiles on their faces. He and Ladd certainly did, as they went from room to room in the pediatric Intensive Care Unit, oncology floor, and playroom, talking with patients and their families about everything from the Blackhawks season and if they liked the Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine. Gregory Brookins, 18, bids farewell to Blackhawks players Aaron Johnson (left) and Andrew Ladd (right) and urges them on to the playoffs.

Ladd said that he realized the difficulties patients contend with as they battle serious illnesses because his own family has also been touched by cancer. "I know how hard it is to be in a hospital. I want to give them support, and I hope progress will be made in finding new treatments for these kids," he added.

Among the things they did that got a laugh: blowing bubbles with William Stark Jr., 4, who is being treated for neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, and a "sword fight" with plastic weapons in the room of 4-year-old cancer patient Sophie Rietveld. Rachel Gaston, 17, another oncology patient, was delighted to see them drop in during her lunch.

The University of Chicago Medical Center is the Preferred Health Care Provider of the Blackhawks. Several physicians with the University of Chicago Medical Center help oversee care of these elite NFL athletes to keep them healthy on and off the ice.

William Harper, MD, associate professor of medicine and medical director of the program for personalized health and prevention, is the lead internist for the team. Orthopedic surgeon Sherwin Ho, MD, associate professor of surgery, is also a team physician.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

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John Easton
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john.easton@uchospitals.edu