A "Crowning Achievement" for Our Riley Kid

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Angela with her son, Kip

Our son Kip was born on the morning of March 30, 1999, a healthy, happy nine-and-a-half pound baby boy! It wasn’t until that afternoon that I noticed a huge birthmark on his back. We immediately contacted our pediatrician who referred us to Riley.

At Riley we met with Dr. Sued, a plastic surgeon who diagnosed it as a Giant Congenital Nevis. We were told it would not be a question of whether to remove the birthmark but instead, when, as this would surely develop into cancer and it could be deadly. Our oldest daughter, Alex, was a cancer survivor thanks to Riley, and we knew we didn’t want to travel down that road again.

We made the decision to have the nevis removed when Kip was 7 months old, just before he became really mobile, in an attempt to avoid complications with damaging his skin graft. It was difficult. Actually, it was unbearable at times. Staying on the burn unit during his procedures, however, quickly put our issues into perspective. During the first surgery, the birthmark was removed and cadaver skin was placed on the site. Two weeks later, he had a second surgery using skin grafts from his body. Our job was to keep the site sanitary and encourage our active little boy to be calm, quiet and still for weeks on end while the grafts took hold.

The staff at Riley, especially the nurses on the burn unit, are special people. They care for families that have children with severe burns caused from house fires or chemical spills. Some of these people have lost everything and have little hope as their children cling to life. The nurses function as a team with the doctors, social workers, and Child Life Specialists to work toward the best outcome possible for the patient.

After multiple surgeries, hundreds of bandage changes, and post-operative appointments which included having him fitted with a skin-tight body suit to help the healing process, Kip was released from care.

Fast forward 17 years and our boy is now a high school senior with his eyes on graduating and starting college. His last year of high school at Hamilton Southeastern H.S. has been filled with soccer, volleyball, clubs, classes and college applications. In late January, he competed in his school’s “Mr. Royal” competition. (Think beauty contest for guys with a huge serving of comedy.)  It was a great night of laughs and in the end, Kip was crowned as the champion. In addition, Kip won the title of “Mr. Riley” at this event by collecting $1,375 for the Riley Children’s Foundation. 

Our family will forever be indebted to Riley for getting us through such a chaotic ordeal. It was an honor for our son to be able to give back, even in this small way, to an organization that lives the mission of giving each and every patient that walks through those doors the best care in the world.

Angela Touseull

Angela Touseull graduated from Purdue and after a long stint in the corporate world was drawn to the non-profit sector when her first child, Alex, was born with Down syndrome. She started the Down Syndrome Indiana group and organized the first Buddy Walk in Indiana to raise awareness of people with Down syndrome in our state. After her brother David passed away from leukemia, she began working for Be The Match, a national bone marrow registry, where she has been passionately employed for the last five years. She has three children (two of whom are Riley kids), Alex, a cancer survivor, Cailin, a sophomore at St. Louis University studying International Business and Marketing, and Kip, a senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School. In her spare time, Angela loves to travel, volunteer, garden, and spend time with her children, her husband Darren, and their dog, Bentley.

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