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Survival Story

July 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm


By Michele Hyndman, Public Relations Manager, Stanford Blood Center

I met Karen in the fall of 2006 through a new mom’s group at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View where both of our daughters were born. I was immediately drawn to her sense of humor, honesty and authenticity. We shared the joy, frustration and anxiety of new parenthood as we watched our girls grow from newborns to active toddlers. Then we both discovered that we’d be expecting sons to join our families in 2009. In fact Karen, and her daughter Rebecca, were some of the first people to meet my son, Mason, when they brought us dinner that February. Karen’s belly was big that night and we talked about life with two children and everything she still had left to do to prepare for her second child. She still had two months until she was due.

I will never forget how stunned I was when I got an email from Karen on March 5, 2009 to announce her son‘s arrival. It started “Quinn Frederick Bossow was born on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, he is in extremely critical condition at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.” I immediately visited the blog she had created to keep family and friends updated on his condition.

In a routine check up, Karen commented that the baby had not been moving as much as before. An ultrasound showed that he was smaller than he should be at 36 weeks and there was a mass in her uterus. The safest course of action was to induce labor. Quinn was born with a massive cancerous tumor on his leg, which was what they had seen in the ultrasound.

Karen wrote, “A team of neonatologists was waiting for him. He was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where they worked to prevent him from bleeding to death. They told us he would need surgery right away and prepared to transfer him from El Camino Hospital to Stanford. Right now, they have controlled the bleeding in his leg. They can’t remove any of the tissue until he is stronger and there is a good chance they will have to amputate much of the leg because the tissue is so fused with his own that they can’t separate it without him bleeding to death.”

In that first post, she ended “Also, consider donating blood to your nearest blood bank. Our little boy sure is going through a lot of it, so it makes me appreciate the importance of donating blood.”

My heart ached for Karen and her husband, Garth. What they were going through was unimaginable. On March 13, Quinn’s left leg was amputated just above the knee. In addition, Quinn had several abnormal electroencephalograms (EEG), a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your brain. Doctors were uncertain if he had brain trauma.

Quinn’s recovery is nothing short of miraculous. He was tenacious. After the amputation, Quinn grew stronger. He ate and slept well. On March 27, 2009, Karen and Garth were able to bring Quinn home. Since then, he continued to exceed every expectation. Quinn shows no sign of cancer now but doctors continue to monitor him closely. He learned to roll over and crawl on his own quickly. Quinn is now learning to walk with a prosthetic leg using a push toy. Karen says he has no idea he has any limitations. He is an extremely happy, joyful little boy with fiery red hair. He is a force of nature.

A heartfelt microdocumentary about Quinn and his family: