Ambassador Highlight: Meet Kirstyn

img_1901Kirstyn was all smiles on her 12th birthday as she opened presents and ate cupcakes decorated like emojis. Life hasn’t always been smiles and happy emoticons for this brave girl.

When Kirstyn was just a day old, she was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital for severe jaundice treatment. At 7 days old, physicians informed Kirstyn’s parents that she may not live through the night.


That’s where Robert Zori, M.D., UF College of Medicine pediatric geneticist, stepped in. Drawing on his expertise, Dr. Zori diagnosed Kirstyn with propionic acidemia, a rare metabolic disorder in which the body can’t process certain proteins and fats. This condition leads to abnormal levels of toxins and acids in the body, which can cause damage to the organs. Dr. Zori started Kirstyn on a treatment course of a low protein diet and medications. She was well enough to go home after spending nine and a half weeks in the NICU.

Due to complications from propionic academia, Kirstyn was later diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at 18 months old. She suffered her first seizure when she was 11.

Today, Kirstyn is in 7th grade. She loves her dog, Gizmo, and enjoys spending hours creating paintings, drawings and crafts.

Her care continues to be managed by a team of specialists atUF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Kirstyn’s mother expressed her gratitude for the care her daughter receives.

“This hospital saved her life, and the services here are top notch,” she said.


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