Sutton is an outgoing and kind 10-year-old with a bit of sass. She and her dad are avid soccer fans, and she plays defense for her soccer team. She’s an ordinary girl who loves mint chocolate chip ice cream, country music and arts and crafts on days when she’s not outdoors. When people meet Sutton, they have a hard time imagining the rollercoaster medical journey she’s been on at Phoenix Children’s.
Sutton's journey began at just six weeks old when she was admitted to Phoenix Children's with a failure-to-thrive diagnosis. She had kidney reflux, feeding difficulties and multiple gastrointestinal issues. When she turned two, the complexities of Sutton's condition continued and doctors suspected she had an immune deficiency disease, which meant that Sutton was susceptible to infections. To fortify her defenses, she embarked on a regimen of intravenous antibody treatments to bolster her ability to fight against infections.
For a while, Sutton navigated her medical challenges with remarkable strength. However, at the age of seven, another chapter unfolded as doctors unveiled Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, which further complicated Sutton's journey.
“It’s been nonstop since then,” says Sutton’s mom, Mara.
In 2022, Sutton underwent abdominal surgery. Despite complications afterward and long inpatient stays at Phoenix Children’s, one for 28 days and the other for 46 days, Sutton remained upbeat and resilient.
“Time stops when you are at Phoenix Children’s. It’s so hard to accept the things that happen, but it really has made our family closer,” says Mara.
Through it all, Sutton continues to stay positive and she and her family credit Phoenix Children’s for the lifesaving care she’s received.
“Phoenix Children's is wonderful. The doctors care so much and are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Sutton has the treatment and care that she needs,” Mara says. “They make the time to get to know her and spend time with her, even when they are so busy.”
Sutton and Mara both say Child Life and Animal-Assisted Therapy, programs funded through philanthropy, helped them through the process. Sutton loves dogs, and Gertie is her favorite therapy animal. Sutton has also established an amazing friendship with a fellow patient her age, Charity. The two share a similar medical journey, and they developed a strong bond during their stays at the hospital.
“It’s humbling to spend time at PCH to see what these kids go through and how strong they are,” says Mara. “It puts life into perspective.”
Mint chocolate chip ice cream
- “I really love to think positive.”Sutton Phoenix Children's Patient Ambassador
Phoenix Children’s Patient Ambassadors are a valiant bunch—they’ve shown immense strength amidst great setbacks. They’re also athletes, intellectuals, artists and the best siblings.
Even though their lives are full of medical appointments, they want to help other patients. Each Ambassador has created a fundraising page to support Phoenix Children’s. Consider donating to Sutton's fund in support of the Inflammatory Bowl Disease (IBD) Program today.