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Patient family’s donation to make visiting Beacon neurosurgery practice less scary for kids

Beacon Medical Group pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Daniel Fulkerson might need to add a second bookshelf in his offices.

Dr. Fulkerson and his staff were recently amazed and appreciative when Deborah Allen and her five children, ranging in age from 3 to 11, delivered 1,472 children’s books to his practice on the Memorial Hospital campus in South Bend.

Books are a big deal with Dr. Fulkerson’s young patients. When he joined Beacon in 2018, the practice’s nurse practitioner, Natalie Hauser, came up with an idea to give books to patients and their siblings who accompany them on appointments.

“With some kids, that’s the first thing they ask when they come in: ‘Can I go get my book now?’” Dr. Fulkerson said. “Hopefully it takes a little bit of the scariness away. It’s not a very fun thing to go to the doctor so I’m sure if they go home with their Star Wars book, they’ll be happier. The kids have something to look forward to.”

Dr. Fulkerson recently celebrated completing his 300th pediatric neurosurgery at Beacon Children’s Hospital. Those patients have included Allen’s son, Christopher, 9, who also receives treatment for sickle cell anemia from hematologists at the Beacon Children’s Hospital. In late December 2019, Fulkerson corrected a narrowing blood vessel in the back of Christopher’s head, a condition known as moyamoya syndrome.

Left untreated, moyamoya syndrome can cause stroke or bleeding in the brain in children.

“When we see somebody at risk we try to take care of it before we see any problems,” Dr. Fulkerson said. “He’s done great. He was just telling us about the end of his school year. He’s a very outgoing, bright kid and we want to make sure he stays that way.”

Allen said she and her children were excited by the number of books they amassed by word of mouth at the children’s school and via social media. About 650 of the books came from a nonprofit supplier of textbooks to homeschooling parents, books that went unsold during a “curriculum sale,” said Allen, who usually homeschools her children until first grade. About 200 more books came from the Orthodox Jewish community.

It’s not the first time the family has brought in books. In November they donated about 300, and had so much fun that they decided to do it again.

“I reached out to more sources this time and just was making sure that I followed up with people,” Allen said. “People are moving right now, and we’re at the end of the school year, so it happened to be the right time. We enjoyed it when we saw 300 so I said why don’t we try to see if we can do double what we did last time. Our actual goal was 600 so when we went way over that, we were pretty excited.”

Dr. Fulkerson’s staff recently helped the family transport the books into his Beacon Medical Group North Central Neurosurgery offices on the sixth floor of the 100 Navarre Place building, on the Memorial campus. They delivered the books with wheelchairs, then stacked them on a large conference room table to be sorted.

“Thank you so much,” Dr. Fulkerson said to Allen. “People with motivation and gumption can do amazing things.”

About Jeff Parrott

Parrott is media relations specialist for Beacon Health System. Before taking that role, Parrott worked as a reporter for 25 years at several Indiana and Michigan newspapers. When he isn’t telling the world about Beacon’s incredible associates, he enjoys watching sports, attempting DIY home improvement projects and spending time with his wife and children.