Duke Children's Hospital brings a little holiday cheer to young patients, families

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Saturday, December 24, 2016
Making Christmas bright for patients at Duke Children's Hospital
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Iyana Burnett maintains a positive attitude during her fight with cancer.

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Duke Children's Hospital is making things a little merrier for youngsters spending Christmas there.

They set up a holiday shop where parents can pick out gifts for their kids who are sick.

It's all free -- thanks to donations from the community.

All these gifts are donated by businesses, churches and families of former patients to provide a sense of normalcy for children who can't go home for Christmas.

"We are obviously so grateful," said Katelin Sharp, a, Child Life Specialist. "The patients and families here are just wowed every time they walk in the room."

Robin Hales, also a Child Life Specialist, said, "We have lots of dads and moms crying, they were coming down because they are so excited."

Moms such as Jasmine Patterson, whose 11-year-old daughter, Iyana, was just diagnosed with leukemia last month.

"We are not really feeling, 'oh this is great, let's these toys and prepare dinner,' like, we don't get to share that," Patterson said. "We don't get to sit around our living room with our tree."

Iyana has a very compromised immune system, so ABC11 spoke to her via Facebook video chat from the hospital lobby.

"I'm going to go downstairs where you are and that's where I'm going to have my Christmas," Iyana said.

It's why Duke's Snow Blitz event means so much to their family.

Iyana said she'd like a pink kid's laptop.

"Because I wanted to get in touch with my teachers and talk to them and my class," she said. "I miss my teachers and my friends and learning. Home. And my family."

Iyana's strength makes her mother proud, but also tears her apart.

"Yesterday was the first day she lost her hair, and I thought I was going to die," Patterson said. "And she's just like, 'you know, Mom, I'm a bald chick now,' so you know, things like that, it just reminds me why I love her so much."

And while Santa's helpers at Duke are busy wrapping gifts for Santa to deliver here on Christmas Day, Iyana and her mom have a different sort of wish:

"To see my family and hope I get better, so I can go home," Iyana said.

And mom?

"My Christmas wish for her is just to be happy," Patterson said.

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