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National Doctors' Day: How Teamwork Transformed Brielle




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Brielle Hapner with Riley Pediatric Gastroenterologist Steven Steiner, M.D.

Riley Hospital’s exceptional team of pediatric physicians save kids’ lives every day. On National Doctor’s Day, we want to take a moment to share this story of three Riley physicians from three different specialties, who quickly came together to help diagnose a little girl’s mystery illness. 

Brielle Hapner from Fort Wayne was a toddler in the winter of 2015 when she been having severe gastrointestinal symptoms that lasted for months. It was only after seeing Riley specialists that her family finally discovered the cause: a cancerous tumor in Brielle’s abdomen. Brielle’s mother Rya Hapner explains how Riley’s physicians helped them at this difficult time:

“The day we received the news, we didn’t even have time to panic because a team of doctors worked together to come up with a plan for Brielle and explained it within minutes.

Riley Pediatric Gastroenterologist Dr. Steven Steiner gave us the initial news. He then walked us across the hall to Riley Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Holly Knoderer’s office and we were seen immediately. The second she walked through the door she looked at us and said, ‘I want you to breathe. Brielle is going to be okay!’ She took her time explaining everything to us while another one of her team members sat and entertained Brielle. We loved that because it allowed us to focus on what the doctor was telling us. 

After explaining what neuroblastoma was, Dr. Knoderer started giving us details on what we were facing. A pediatric surgeon, Dr. Fred Rescorla, would be performing the resection of the tumor. He had reviewed the CT scan and felt confident he could remove the entire mass with no complications.

What I would like to point out is the short amount of time it took for the doctors to come together to create a plan of action. The care we received was unbelievable. Surgery was successful and the tumor was completely removed.”

Today, Brielle is enjoying life as a healthy, happy 3-year-old. 

(Click here to watch Brielle’s video here.) 

To all the Riley doctors who use their expertise and compassion to help children like Brielle survive and thrive, and to the Riley Children’s Foundation donors who support their work, we say thank you


Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.


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