The Schorgl family's journey through nationally renowned healthcare institutions began in fall 2012 before returning to Kansas City 3 years later.
Kiersten, then 20 and a student at Kansas State University, first experienced pain, exhaustion and other symptoms ultimately diagnosed as severe ulcerative colitis. Her parents, Katherine and Jim, took her to Mayo Clinic, where it was discovered she also had clostridium difficile or C. diff, a potentially fatal bacterial infection, and pneumonia.
In July 2013, she was still struggling with symptoms, so the decision was made to perform a j-pouch procedure. The 3-part surgery involves completely removing the diseased colon, constructing a "j-shaped" internal pouch, or reservoir, from the small intestine and then essentially stitching everything back together.
Over the next 2 years, Kiersten experienced one life-threatening complication after another: pancreatitis, a bowel obstruction, portal vein thrombosis, viral meningitis, cytomegalovirus, latent tuberculosis, chronic ulcers and the opening of a wound requiring constant, complex care. The Schorgls also visited Cleveland Clinic for treatment.
"Given what she's been through, I truly believe Kiersten is alive because she is the most tenacious, determined person I know," says her mom, Katherine.
World-class care, close to home
All told, Kiersten and her family made approximately 25 trips to emergency departments and spent an estimated 270 nights in various hospitals. In 2015, Kiersten began treatment with The University of Kansas Health System.
"We've been to what are considered the best hospitals in the nation, and we found the care at The University of Kansas Hospital to be as good as it gets anywhere – and now I am thriving," says Kiersten, now 24.
"And the nursing was the best we experienced at any hospital," adds Katherine.
Why does nursing make a difference?
"Sleep is vital when you're so sick," says Katherine. "The nurses coordinated care, so Kiersten was awakened fewer times. They always let us know what they were doing and why. They even rescheduled a test late on a Friday so Kiersten could spend the weekend at home. The nurses cared about our needs as parents, too."
We've been to what are considered the best hospitals in the nation, and we found the care at The University of Kansas Hospital to be as good as it gets anywhere – and now I am thriving. – Kiertsen Schorgl
As a result of their experience here, the Schorgls are philanthropically supporting Cambridge Tower A, with Katherine serving on the campaign steering committee.
Jim is the vice president of Finance at Burns & McDonnell, which donated $2.5 million to Cambridge Tower A.
"We want as many people who need the very best care to be able to receive it – right here in Kansas City," she says. "The University of Kansas Hospital, just like Kansas City, is a hidden gem. And I don't want either to be hidden anymore."
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