Peter Hanson is a typical kid. He plays video games, plays with friends, gets good grades in school. He even plays football with his dad, brother and sister.
But, at only 10 years old, Peter has endured more than most people many times his age. He has survived cardiac failure, a heart transplant, chronic ear infections, a broken leg, repeated bouts of pneumonia and a rare form of cancer. Despite all of this, Peter hasn’t let it change who he is—a happy, smiling kid.
Because of a congenital defect, Peter’s heart began to fail soon after he turned 2. Awaiting a heart transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, his condition became so dire that he was put in a medically induced coma.
Then his liver began failing, too. His caregivers—from cardiology, intensive care, social work, palliative care and many other specialties—worried he might be too sick to receive a new heart.
But collaboration that made the difference. A last-minute dose of vitamin K (suggested by Swati Agarwal, MD, then a fellow in the PICU) rescued Peter's liver function. Two days later, he received a new heart.
Peter’s problems, however, were far from over. Between being bedridden and later a broken leg, he’s had to relearn to walk three times. He was plagued by ear infections and bouts of pneumonia, and rare ciliary dyskinesia. Our teams had the expertise to treat all of it.
Then on his 8th birthday, Peter awoke unable to open one eye. He began a series of assessments in our ophthalmology, neurology and oncology departments. Finally, his caregivers diagnosed cancer, a type of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma never previously seen in a child.
Peter spent the summer of 2012 receiving chemotherapy, an unusually complex endeavor, since he also takes immunosuppressants to keep his heart safe and anti-infection medications for his lungs. With leadership in pediatric cancer care, and collaboration with our diverse specialties, our Bass Cancer & Blood Disease Center team was able to give him the treatment he needed.
Hundreds of caregivers have assisted the Hanson family since they first came to us in 2005. They've addressed not just Peter's medical needs but also his family's desire to be highly involved in his care, and Peter's wish to be a regular kid.