My turn to give back
Tell us your story.
My name is Dr. Shawn Parnell. I am a physician in training
here at Children's Hospital in the radiology
department. When I start as an attending physician here in
August 2007, I will be fulfilling a dream that started over
thirty years ago.
You see, I was a patient at a Children's Hospital
in Miami, Florida when I was less than one year old. As my
mother tells the story, I was born with an unusual rash on
the skin of my arms, legs and trunk. First it was red, then
crusty with scabs. Then it turned into dark swirls. My
general pediatrician did not know what was wrong with me.
Then, at ten months of age, I started to have trouble keeping
my balance and my mom noticed that I couldn't track
objects placed in front of my left eye. It turns out that I
had a detached retina and had become blind in my eye. Only
after taking me to a dedicated children's hospital
did my parents discover the cause of my problems: a rare
syndrome called incontinentia pigmenti (literally,
"uncontrollable pigment"). At the time, there were
only 200 reported cases in the world.
Many children with my condition have mental retardation
and seizures; I am fortunate to have been spared those
consequences. On the other hand, only a small percentage of
people with IP have retinal detachment. I also have multiple
missing teeth, bald patches on my head and small, weak
muscles in my left leg related to IP.
Throughout my childhood, I visited many specialists at the
University of Florida Teaching Hospital to follow my
condition and to fit me with a prosthesis for my eye so I
could look like other children at school. I would often look
around the hospital and hope that one day I could be like the
doctors that were helping me.
So after years and years of training, it is finally my
turn to give back. As I read x-rays, ultrasounds, CT and MRI
scans, I try to fit together the pieces of other
children's unsolved puzzles- to unravel the
conditions that bring so many families to our medical
What does Children's mean to you, your child and your family?
Children's is not only the place I work and
train, but also where I have brought my children for their
special medical needs.