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This is Penn State Health

Patient Stories

This is who we dedicate our lives to, giving them the health they need to live the way they want.

A woman stands in a doorway on a porch holding a bag and a package of food. She smiles at a man in the foreground who is inside the house and facing her from the doorway. Behind her bushes obscure another house across a swath of grass and pathways.

This is Anne’s heart of gold

As a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for almost a decade, Anne Ertel is happy to deliver a nutritious dinner to those who might not otherwise get one. But for this Berks County resident, it’s about a lot more than food.

Mother smiles as son sits on shoulders and laughs while holding mother’s hands in a wooded setting.

This is Kianna’s triumph

Many women worry about caring for their babies once they’re born. Kianna Watkins was most concerned about carrying her babies to full term so they’d have the best start in life.

Silhouette of a man facing right, standing on a rock by the water’s edge, casting a fishing line out into a lake. The sun is setting behind a hill covered in trees and is reflected in the lake.

This is Dave’s second chance

After 10 years of battling shortness of breath and fatigue that left him unable to live life to the fullest, Dave Gravette couldn’t be more thankful for his new heart, and he keeps a photo of the donor on his table as a reminder that he’s living life for both of them.

Alyssa Acevedo, who has shoulder-length hair and wears a long-sleeve dress, sits on her bedroom floor with her toddler daughter, who wears a print dress and sunglasses, on her lap. Shoes and clothes surround them on closet shelves and on the floor.

This is Alyssa’s

From her fashion flair to her latest home improvement project, Alyssa Acevedo embraces life with gusto… and lately, with baby Izzy on her hip.

Wendy Johnson, who has shoulder-length hair and wears glasses, sits behind a table and smiles as she looks at a child’s apron she holds in front of her. Bottles of fabric paint and a mug that says “Live, Love, Meow” are on the table.

Wendy’s design for the future

Wendy Johnson has seen a lot of change in the past two years – she’s a recent empty nester in a new home where she didn’t expect to be – but the Mechanicsburg resident embraces it all with optimism.

A man smiles as he holds the harness of a horse. The man has a beard and is wearing sunglasses, a cowboy hat with a feather in it, a flowered vest and a long-sleeved shirt. The horse’s head is visible with a long forelock hanging over its eyes and a harness on the right side of its head.

This is David’s drive

There’s no mistaking the enthusiasm in David Albertson’s voice when he talks about his majestic Percheron draft horses and carriage business.

Paul Brennan kisses his daughter Lilly’s forehead as he holds her in his arms. They are standing in front of a row of American flags. He has short hair and is wearing a polo shirt. She has shoulder-length hair, is wearing a flowered dress and is smiling. Behind them are trees.

This is what heroes look like

For Paul Brennan, serving in active combat in Afghanistan was an honor and a sacrifice he was willing to make for his country – even if it meant not seeing his infant daughter.

Gabriella Asadi dances on a stage, smiling at her mother and brother. The backs of their heads are shown from behind as they sit in their audience seats.

This is living life in focus

Gabriella Asadi uses every part of her 8-year-old self to express her creativity – her hands are meant for drawing, her arms are meant for hugging, and her feet are meant for dancing.

Krista Carroll of Shippensburg smiles with her children Madden, 6, and Jillian, 3, in a black and white portrait. They are sitting on a couch. Krista is wearing a sweater and casual top. Madden is leaning his head on his mother’s back and is wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Jillian is sitting in her mother’s lap and wearing a polka-dotted shirt. Behind them is a log cabin wall, a curtain and pillows on a chair.

This is Krista’s happily ever after

Krista Carroll always wanted to be a mom.

A place deep inside of her longed to be filled with what she had lost so early in life – her mother.

JuJu Rivera, a five-year-old boy from Lebanon who received three heart surgeries at Penn State Children’s Hospital, makes muscles with both arms as he stands in his bedroom. He has a vertical scar on his chest and is wearing a towel on his back like a superhero cape and pajama pants. Behind him, his bed is covered with a bedspread decorated with dinosaurs.

This is JuJu’s superpower

When JuJu Rivera and his mom shop at the local discount store in Lebanon, it’s hard to know who’s the real greeter—the person at the door or JuJu.