Meet Kaitlyn Croslin

 

Kaitlyn Croslin was just 9 months old when her pediatrician in Conway suspected she might have cystic fibrosis. The infant had been struggling with acid reflux and was losing weight instead of gaining—and when Kaitlyn came down with her second bout of pneumonia, her doctor sent her to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

The team at Arkansas Children’s confirmed the diagnosis—“I had heard of cystic fibrosis, but I didn’t know the first thing about it,” says Kaitlyn’s father Danny. He soon learned that the genetic disease causes mucus to build up in the lungs, pancreas and other organs, which leads to frequent lung infections and extensive damage over time. Mucus in the pancreas prevents the release of digestive enzymes, and results in difficulty absorbing nutrients and gaining weight.

After being diagnosed, Kaitlyn stayed at the hospital for four weeks and it wouldn’t be the last time. Throughout her childhood, common illnesses and viruses resulted in frequent lung infections and month-long hospital stays a couple of times a year. 

Now, when 15-year-old Kaitlyn is ill, she is admitted for a couple of days to begin IV antibiotics and then finishes her treatment at home. But the teen says that staying in the hospital is always made better by favorite nurses who make her laugh…and the food. “If I’m hungry, I get to order whenever I want and eat whenever I want. It’s food heaven, pretty much,” Kaitlyn says. 

“Arkansas Children’s Hospital is amazing,” says Danny. “Everything about it—the staff, the doctors. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s indescribable having to spend so much time in the hospital. But if there was any hospital in the world we were going to be, there isn’t any one I would trade for it.”

Even when she isn’t sick, Kaitlyn follows a daily routine to stay well. She completes 30-minute vest treatments three times a day—in the morning, after school and before bed—to help loosen and rid mucus build-up in the lungs. Inhaled medications help clear her airways and thin the mucus. To meet her weight goals, she takes pancreatic enzymes to properly digest food and absorb nutrients, and often does overnight feeds while she sleeps for extra calories.

It’s time consuming to keep his daughter healthy, says Danny. But the Croslins knows how important Kaitlyn’s treatments are to her health, since the life expectancy for individuals with cystic fibrosis is currently 30-40 years. “If I start getting sick, it’s going to be difficult for me to get married and be able to see my kids grow,” Kaitlyn says. “I want to grow up and be a nurse and have kids of my own—and I want to live to the age to be able to do that.” 

 

Donate in honor of Kaitlyn by visiting her fundraising page here. Until no child needs us, we need you.

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