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Duquesne Family Grateful to United Way Agencies

For Jill Spitznagel, an applications specialist in Duquesne’s CTS department,  donations to United Way that support Children’s Hospital may have saved her daughter’s life.

haley and familyHaley Spitznagel , age 6, loves to play soccer and the piano, do gymnastics and ice skating, and is very excited about first grade. She fits these activities in among the 58 doctor visits she had last year. Haley‘s health must be closely monitored because of her surgeries for brain tumors in 2009 and this past summer.

Spitznagel considers their family fortunate to have the top-notch medical experts at Children’s Hospital so close by. “Haley was one of the first children to have a tumor removed using the advanced endoscopic/endonasal surgical approach. It suctions out the tumor through the nasal and sinus cavities,” Spitznagel said.

Of Haley’s 24 days in Children’s Hospital, Spitznagel says “we witnessed the good that they do for everyone at the hospital, including helping those who cannot pay. The patient population is international at Children’s and the nurses are over-the-top great.  It’s amazing what they do. We didn’t have one bad experience.”

Wishes Come True

Haley also benefited from another United Way agency, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.  Generous donors allowed Make-A-Wish to give Haley her wish – an above-ground swimming pool. “She loves her pool,” said Spitznagel.  As a Make-A-Wish kid, Haley has joined others at baseball and football games, concerts and the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Haley’s chances for a tumor-free life improve as each year passes, but her perspective is focused on the here and now. “She knows she doesn’t want another surgery, and she knows she takes a lot of pills,” said Spitznagel.  “But she doesn’t dwell on her condition. She is a normal kid.”

Haley gets a lot of exercise and watches her diet, to counter the effects of the tumor and surgery on her hypothalamus. Some of the pills she takes replace the functions of her pituitary gland, which was removed to thwart the return of any tumors.  Her mom, her dad Mike, and her 3-year-old brother Ryan join in and benefit from her healthful lifestyle.

“Without the donations that fund the hospital’s foundation and support research, my daughter wouldn’t be doing as well as she is today,” said Spitznagel.  United Way makes sure that many other families can get the medical, financial and social services they needs as well.

Make-A-Wish United Way of Allegheny County’s United Way code is 913. Children’s Hospital’s United Way code is 156.