Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Meet Hannah

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There are a lot of great words to describe someone like Hannah Duke: go-getter, eager beaver, ball of fire, self-starter, live wire.

The 16-year-old has spent her entire life in and out of the hospital with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, a blood disorder, and the many complications that go along with these diseases, but that hasn't held her back one bit. Hannah is an accomplished musician on piano, guitar and fiddle, an active volunteer in the community and a teacher at her church.

Her medical problems kept her out of traditional school, and Hannah was home-schooled by her mother, Jodie, along with her brother, Chet.

"At times it was difficult to be in the hospital so much, but I had lots of experiences and got to meet lots of people," Hannah said. "I didn't want to sit in the hospital and worry, so I decided to get as far ahead as possible."

That meant, at only 16 years old, Hannah could begin college this summer at Freed Hardeman University, where she already has a 4.0 grade point average. She is majoring in Bible and social work and hopes to be a counselor.

"While I am in the hospital, I love to go around and talk to patients and hear what they are going through and help them if I can. I found out that I have a passion for people," Hannah said.

Immediately from birth, Hannah had stomach problems and was in and out of the hospital with feeding tubes and ulcers. She also developed severe kidney reflux and had to have surgery to correct this at 10 months. Then at age 2, she began showing signs of arthritis.

"She started saying her foot hurt and she wouldn't walk. She would just sit down," her mother Jodie recalled.

Hannah, who lives with her family in Old Hickory, Tenn., is seen primarily at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, but has also seen specialists at The Children's Hospital in Denver, Children's Hospital Boston and Presbyterian St. Lukes Hospital in Denver.

"She has had up to 60 surgeries but I have never heard her complain," Jodie said. "She lost all her hair this year and within four days was onstage performing. She has never become her illness, she just says it's her journey."

Other organizations have recognized Hannah's go-getter attitude, and she was awarded two college scholarships - one from the Jambalaya Jubilee, an annual retreat for children with arthritis, and one from UCB, Inc., a pharmaceutical company.

"I know that all my medical treatment costs a lot, and having some of my college paid for is great. I can't wait to start classes again this fall," she said.

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