Vater's Syndrome; Leukemia; Down Syndrome Betsy Keyton
Not Feature Story
Betsy Keyton was never a patient at Children’s Hospital, but it was Children’s that inspired her to begin a nursing career that she loves. In 1989, Betsy’s niece Rachel was born with an association of birth defects called Vater’s Syndrome, which affected her heart, kidneys and esophagus. Rachel was hospitalized at Children’s for more than three months. Betsy was by her niece’s side for much of that time. Betsy says, “I fell in love with Children’s Hospital and I fell in love with how they treated the families and how they took care of the patients.”
Even though she had an undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and a Master’s Degree in Audiology, Betsy decided to go to Nursing School. She went back to school with the goal to work in the NICU at Children’s Hospital. During those three and a half years in Nursing School, Rachel’s older sister Kaitie became ill and was diagnosed with Leukemia.
While Kaitie was at Children’s Betsy recalls that “Everybody was so sweet to her and made us feel special and cared about. She’s getting ready to turn 20 years old and to look at her, you’d never know anything was wrong.” Rachel is 18 and is also doing well and comes to Children’s for check ups. Betsy thought those check ups and her employment at Children’s in the NICU would be her family’s only involvement with Children’s, but her brother’s daughter Hannah Grace was born with Down’s Syndrome. Hannah Grace is the third child in Betsy’s family to be treated at Children’s Hospital.
Betsy’s family views Children’s as a true blessing for the state of Alabama. Although Betsy herself wasn’t a patient here, she now helps care for our patients. She calls Children’s Hospital “a miracle place, a family place, a place specifically geared to love and to heal kids.”