June was getting ready for ballet practice when the symptoms hit. A violent headache. A sudden bout of vomiting. An aneurysm the size of a kumquat had ruptured near June’s brainstem.  

“The chief of pediatric neurosurgery took one look at the scans and said the only place that could save her was UCSF,” says Jessica, June’s mom. 

June was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Caregivers monitored her around the clock to keep her blood pressure down and limit bleeding around the rupture.  

For four days, a multidisciplinary team of experts consulted on the way forward.  The decision: to conduct three surgeries to remove the aneurysm and repair the damage; and to keep June in the Intensive Care Unit for close monitoring following the procedure.  

There was a significant risk that June would suffer severe and long-term damage. But two weeks later, she had made a full recovery. 

For June’s parents, the commitment and compassion that they experienced during their daughter’s medical journey will always stay with them. "UCSF is so innovative in these moments,” says Jessica. “They workshop ideas and brainstorm among the team, and even consult with colleagues around the world. That’s the dedication you get.” 

Investing in the Future 

As a nationally ranked pediatric hospital UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland always strives to be better – for June and for every child like her.  

This drive to innovate and elevate patient care also means modernizing facilities to ensure ready access to 21st century technologies and advanced treatment options. In this spirit, we recently unveiled the latest milestone in a phased plan to revitalize and expand our Oakland campus: a newly upgraded Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.   

Four times larger than the former space, the state-of-the-art space is designed to vastly enhance the patient and family experience by prioritizing their comfort and healing. The new PICU features 22 private patient rooms equipped with the latest technology, as well as sleep couches, soothing décor and windows for natural light. A new private parent lounge was designed for calm and comfort. And inspiring art throughout the unit reflects the diversity of the patient population and the local community. 

“This is such an important and pivotal expansion for the children we serve,” says Dr. Kelley Meade, Oakland’s interim chief medical officer. “The pandemic has really showed us how important it is for patients and families in crisis to have private safe spaces that promote healing.” 

Making a Lasting Impact 

June returned to her Oakland home on Christmas Day, two weeks after being admitted to the hospital. She was already back to her old self – the best present her family could have asked for. 

The pandemic has really showed us how important it is for patients and families in crisis to have private safe spaces that promote healing.

Dr. Kelley Meade

Two years later, Jessica knows how lucky they are that her daughter not only survived her harrowing experience, but has continued to grow and thrive. But she also knows that it’s more than just luck. It’s a testament to how the care teams at UCSF Benioff Oakland  give everything they have to every child who comes through those doors. 

“I always say it's a miracle, but I don’t think it is,” says Jessica. “It's the product of extremely skilled individuals who care deeply about their work." 

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