Ambassador Highlight: Meet Jenna

UF Health Shands Children's Hospital CMN Ambassador Jenna Rogers

18-year-old Jenna Rogers is a fitting example of how expert medical intervention at a young age makes all the difference in the world. When Jenna was younger, she was very tiny and sick often. She suffered from repetitive infections that required multiple hospital admissions and many at-home intravenous antibiotics.

Her infectious disease doctor in Orlando discovered that she had a problem with her immune system and referred her to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital to see several specialists. After an appointment with an immunologist, Jenna also needed a rheumatologist. Fortunately, she was placed under the care of Melissa Elder, M.D., a pediatric rheumatologist who also focuses on immunology.

Jenna was diagnosed with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). CVID is a disorder that impairs the immune system, making those affected highly susceptible to recurrent infections and viruses in lungs, sinuses and ears. JIA is a type of arthritis where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues.

Jenna now does weekly IgG subcutaneous infusions at home on her own. IgG is a blood product that is purified from the rest of the blood, eliminating potential infectious agents. She also receives monthly Remicade infusions, an immunosuppressive drug used to treat arthritis, takes nearly 30 oral medications daily, and is under the care of multiple specialists to manage her diseases.

“Without the level of care at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and the funds provided by CMN Hospitals, we literally would not have our daughter, our sweet girl,” said Jenna’s mother, Kristi. “CMN Hospitals provided funds for the transport vehicle that brought her to Gainesville, every single piece of diagnostic equipment and infusion pumps used for her medicine.”

Because of Jenna’s early medical intervention, she leads as full a life as she can tolerate with all of her illnesses. Her favorite activities include Girl Scouts, reading, playing Playstation 4 games with her friends and competitive archery. She loves spending a day at a Disney park with her favorite people—her family.

“The most positive outcome from Jenna’s circumstances is how our family’s relationship has grown even closer,” Kristi said.

Jenna’s biggest hero is her big brother, Jared.

“He brightens her darkest days and can make her smile when she feels the worst,” Kristi said. “They have a very special bond. Our family has been able to be together literally 24/7/365 for many years, and it is such a blessing.”

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