First Annual Doernbecher Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Picnic Launches Family Support Network

07/21/99    Portland, Ore.

Families of pediatric transplant patients form a new support network.

Trevor Gugin's family of Cove, Oregon, remembers what it was like to have their 9-year-old son receive a bone marrow transplant at Oregon Health Sciences University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital. "It was scary and exciting at the same time," says Tami Gugin, Trevor's mom. "I felt like we were the only ones going through this and wished I had someone to talk to about it who had been through it."

Tami says the medical staff provided excellent clinical support, but a family network is needed to provide emotional support. That's why the staff at Doernbecher and families, like the Gugins, are forming a new "Family Support Network for Bone Marrow Transplants."

"We believe that people are not just diseases and that the care of the patient needs to be holistic, meeting psychosocial as well as medical needs," says Theodore Moore, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics (hematology/oncology), OHSU School of Medicine and director of Doernbecher's Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program. "We have been planning for over a year now to develop a group like this with an aim at providing emotional and informational support for each other in a way that medical personnel may not be able to."

More than 250 bone marrow transplant patients and their families will kick off the formation of the new network Saturday, July 24, at the First Annual Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Picnic from 12 to 3 p.m. at Oaks Amusement Park. Oaks Park is helping sponsor the event by offering free rides to anyone who attends. In addition, there will be free T-shirts, face painting and a barbecue funded and staffed by the Crop-A-Cop program and Kiwanis. Seattle based a cappella band m-pact will also perform at 1 p.m.

The network will offer parents a newsletter, Web site and regular social functions. Saturday's picnic will be the first of the social functions and will become an annual event.

Since the pediatric bone marrow transplant program started in 1991, 82 patients have had transplants.

More than 250 children and their family members are expected to enjoy the rides and activities while reuniting with staff and other patients. Trevor, his mom Tami and Dr. Moore will be at the event and available for interviews. Reporters can check in at the picnic registration desk for assistance in locating them.