When Grace Mikuriya was just 11 years old, her health took a quick turn for the worst. After experiencing intense abdominal pain and vomiting, her parents took her to urgent care to get checked out. Grace was sent home, but her parents remained concerned. They took her to the doctor the next day, who identified worrying symptoms and sent Grace to our Nan and Howard Schow Emergency & Trauma Center right away.
When she arrived here, our team of caregivers quickly diagnosed Grace with sepsis — a condition in which the body responds improperly to infection. She was experiencing multisystem organ failure. “The doctors told my parents that if I’d come in any later, they probably couldn’t have saved me,” says Grace.
Our team discovered that Grace’s condition was caused by a kink in her ureter — the duct where urine passes from the kidney to the bladder. Shortly after being diagnosed, she fell into a coma. She needed surgery to install a stent to keep her ureter open.
Thanks to the lifesaving treatment we provided, Grace began to improve — eventually coming out of her coma after two weeks. She was cared for by our team of pediatric specialists for about a month.
“I was sad that I had to be in the hospital during my summer break, but the doctors and nurses were so accommodating and kind,” says Grace. Others helped brighten her time here, too. She recalls that she was gifted a diary to use to write down her thoughts during her recovery. A soccer team that her friend was on at the time also brought her a special teddy bear. “It made me so happy during a sad time,” she says.
After being released from Huntington, Grace spent time at home fully recovering, before undergoing reconstructive surgery of her ureter. About a year later, she wanted to find a way to give back and help other children like her in our community. With help from her pediatrician Margaret Legault, MD, and her friends and family, she decided to hold a toy drive to collect teddy bears to distribute to patients in our pediatric unit during the December holidays. “My family and friends helped me do it again the following year and we have continued every year since,” says Grace. “It’s grown over time, and we now donate other toys, too. It’s my only tradition and it means so much to me.”
Today, Grace is completely healthy. She went on to attend California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she majored in journalism and now works in minor league baseball as the fan engagement manager for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Grace remains appreciative of the doctors and nurses who cared for her here, including Dr. Legault, who recently retired after a long career in pediatrics. “I’m so grateful for what they did for me,” says Grace. Huntington Hospital absolutely saved my life.”