NIH holds 7th Annual Sibling Day - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

NIH holds 7th Annual Sibling Day

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BETHESDA, Md. -

The kids in this story have spent far more time in hospitals than any child should. But they are not the ones who are sick. Somebody else in their family is.

In this operating room, instead of M.D.s and RNs, there are kids. They know a little about medicine and they learned it the hard way.

Arthur Knopfmacher's sister had cancer.

“She had rhabdomyosarcoma,” he said. “It's a muscle cancer.”

Jasmine Anderson's 6-year-old sister Lilly is sick too.

“She has an inoperable tumor in her brain stem,” Anderson said.

This is the 7th Annual Sibling Day at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and these supersiblings even got to wear capes.

“What we've learned is that many times, their needs have not been identified where they can be able to feel frightened or worried or concerned about what's happening to their brother or sister,” said Lori Wiener, head of the Pediatric Psychosocial Support and Research Program in the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute. “But at the same time, not feel jealous or feel angry that their needs are not being attended to or all the attention is being given to their brother or sister.”

The kids learned some phlebotomy.

They also found veins on a big rubber arm. But don't worry – what may look like blood is actually just water with food coloring.

They also studied giant red blood cells made of clay.

The kids even got a chance to check out an MRI machine to see how confining it is and also how noisy.

“I'm just surprised that [my sister] has to go through all this,” said Anderson.

She is going through it too. She is spending her summer on the road. Weekdays at NIH and weekends back home in New Jersey.

“I just don't get to see my friends that often or do stuff that I normally do over the summer,” she said.

“We wanted to be able to have a day that's just for them,” said Wiener. “A day just to be able to recognize that they are important too.”

And a way to make sure they don't have to grow up too fast.

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