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Infusion care at Yakima Valley Memorial is a lifesaver for Baby Mason

Mason is adorable. He's got thick spiky hair and a smile that creeps across his face when you say his name. He likes to kick his chubby little legs.

The 9-month old is a happy boy, lying on a bed in the Pediatrics Unit at Yakima Valley Memorial hospital as he receives the IV infusion that is saving his life. His mother, Susie Del Viento, sits close by his side.

The fact that he's here at all is a miracle. Two miracles, actually.

A routine newborn health screening found that Mason has Pompe disease. The genetic disorder causes sugars to build up in the body's cells, and the body lacks the enzyme that usually breaks them down. He will need regular infusions of a special medication or he could get very sick — and possibly die.

Pompe affects 1 in 40,000 people. In fact, the Health Department mandated that providers begin testing for it only two months before Mason was born. "He had an angel watching over him," says YVM Pediatric Nurse Teresa Breitenfeldt, as she adjusts Mason's IV line. Susie nods. "It felt like a miracle that the test was available, but I was in shock," she says. "I asked them — 'Are you guys sure you have the right baby?' " They were sure.

The diagnosis meant that Mason would need infusion care every two weeks for his entire life. But because the nearest pediatric infusion center is at Seattle Children's Hospital, that meant Mason and his family, who live in Sunnyside, would have to travel three hours each way for his care.

"The next six months were a blur," Susie says. Her sister, Jasmin Sanchez, would drive over Snoqualmie Pass while Susie sat in the back with Mason. "We had one time where we almost didn't make it because the weather was really bad. We also had to pull over all the time to make sure he was OK."

Mason's pediatrician, Dr. Catherine Koozer, thought there just had to be an easier way, but YVM's Infusion Care Department was not set up to treat infants. Dr. Koozer exchanged scores of emails and spent hours on Zoom calls with doctors at Children's Hospital. She worked with YVM's Infusion Care team and pharmacists until they all figured out a way for Mason to be treated here in Yakima.

"Once I got that phone call I was so excited! I said 'Yes, I'm ready!" Susie says, smiling. The process of infusing the medication, Lumizyme, takes five hours.

"It works out perfect that we're coming to Yakima Valley Memorial now. It's so much better — less overwhelming and not so far from home," says Susie, who has six other children at home.

YVM's Infusion Care team administers medications intravenously in an outpatient setting. The Infusion Care team provides everything from nutrition and hydration therapy to blood transfusions, chemotherapy and pain management.

Mason remains calm throughout his treatment and he seems fascinated with the process, looking intently at Infusion Care Nurse Neil Creasy as he checks Mason's temperature.

Susie is incredibly grateful to the team at Yakima Valley Memorial. "They are so awesome. I am so blessed, thanks to this team of people who are helping him."