Getz Family

The Getz family has been named the Miracle Family for Lincoln Elementary School. Pictured is Maggie (left), Christy and John Getz. 

The Morton High School boys’ basketball team and Coach Matt Franks are hosting the eighth annual Gameball Run event to raise money and awareness for Children's Hospital of Illinois (CHOI). Each school in District 709 has selected a Miracle Family to represent the services provided by Children's Hospital and the impact it has on Morton families. To financially support Gameball Run, donate online at www.MortonGameballRun.org. Each school is hosting events, with all proceeds going to Children's Hospital of Illinois.

The Miracle Family representing Lincoln Elementary School is the Getz family – Christy, Maggie and John Getz. This is their story.

The Getz family’s journey at CHOI began in March 2009 and still continues today.

Maggie was born at OSF Hospital in March 2009, at 36 weeks.  After an emergency cesarean birth, Maggie was escorted to the CHOIC NICU by her dad, John Getz, and Nurse Katie immediately following birth. On the third day of her stay in the NICU, Maggie was diagnosed with Down syndrome.  She had a PDA and a kinked ureter. Due to low muscle tone caused by down syndrome, Maggie was unable to pass her car seat test and therefore, she stayed an additional three days until she barely, but finely passed. She spent 10 days in the NICU.  Each day was consumed by tests, blood draws, new medical findings and care plans for after her discharge.  “We were all supported by exceptional nurses, doctors and support staff during our time in the NICU,” said Christy Getz.

Maggie received physical therapy and occupational therapy at Children’s Hospital of Illinois starting at the age of six-weeks to five-years old. 

In addition, Maggie received sonograms of her bladder every three months and a daily antibiotic for her kinked ureter.  Her ureter corrected itself as she began to walk and grow.  Her PDA closed enough on its own that it did not require surgery to close it completely.  She was released by her urologist and cardiologist at age two. 

At age three, the family was concerned that Maggie wasn’t meeting her milestones or growing as expected.  The issues were always blamed on the Down syndrome, but the family felt there was something more to it.  Christy added, “After consulting with our pediatrician and demanding testing, a blood test for celiac disease was taken and it came back positive.  Maggie was then referred to a gastroenterologist at CHOI for a scope and biopsy of her small intestine.  All findings confirmed she had celiac.   She was miserable from digesting gluten, not getting the nutrition needed for growth, and therefore wasn’t meeting her milestones.   After one week of a gluten free diet, Maggie was happy and healing.”

From there, Maggie had to have her blood tested every three months to check her antibody levels for celiac and other various levels.  At age four, one of the blood tests revealed that her thyroid levels were off and she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  Maggie was then referred to a CHOI endocrinologist and was put on medication to get her thyroid levels where they should be. 

Once again, more frequent blood draws were required to ensure the medication levels were accurate.  “Blood draws were not easy to get due to rolling veins and dehydration,” said Christy. “There were times Maggie would have to go to the PICU to have “Nurse Angel” as we called her, draw her blood.” 

At age 10, Maggie was referred to a CHOI pulmonologist for sleep apnea.  A sleep study was done at CHOI and she was diagnosed with sleep apnea. She uses a CPAP every night.

“John and I have advocated for and supported CHOI by serving on the NICU family advisory board and the Small Wonders committee,” said Christy.  “We have volunteered at CHOI telethons.  We have met many families, continued friendships with staff and created lifelong friendships on this journey.  Maggie and her NICU neighbor continue a friendship they started 10 years ago. “

“Maggie is a thriving, strong, loving, fifth-grader,” said Christy. “She loves her family.  She enjoys her friends, dance classes, choir, track and basketball.  She is the joy of our lives, our Miracle, and our blessing. She is a blessing to so many people in her life.  She has endured so much.  She has worked so hard to meet milestones and follow a gluten free diet. Most people have no idea the amount of medical treatment Maggie receives at CHOI and she would prefer not to draw attention to it.”

“We are thankful that all her doctors - pediatrician, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, pulmonologist, urologist, cardiologist - are at Children’s Hospital of Illinois,” said Christy. “They are respectful, kind, positive and encouraging. We have always been confident in the care and resources they provide. We are so grateful to have CHOI so close to home. The doctors, along with their amazing staff, work together as a team with us to ensure Maggie receives the treatment and medication needed to keep her healthy.”

“Thank you for your support and efforts in helping us raise funds for Children’s Hospital of Illinois.”