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Savior of Sick Children – Kathy Hull
[Changing the Course of Life & Death with Value]

Every life is precious, but some lives are just like the flower buds being beaten down by the storm, and died too soon before blooming. A child’s early death is a great blow to the parents of the world just like a big earthquake in life...

I’m very much looking forward to seeing more George Mark Children’s Houses to help sick children who are too late to grow up but still able to enjoy the joy of the world.
- Kathy Hull
Kathy Hull, the current founder of George Mark Children’s House of the United States was originally a well-known psychologist in the United States who used to work in the Oncology Department of the Children’s Hospital of Oakland, California. The patients she looked after were children suffered from terminal cancer.

What frustrated her most is that so many children could not see a good end and their families must endure their death without dignity.

Kathy Hull has also experienced the grief of losing her loved ones. Her two brothers, George and Mark passed away at young ages, causing a tremendous impact to her life. She swore to establish a better place than a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where patients can rest in peace, and their family members can accompany them alongside until the last moment of their lives.
From a thought until fulfillment, Kathy Hull went through eight years of hardships and tears, and finally established a peace heaven - George Mark Children’s House (GMCH) in 2004, and further promoted it to 18 states in the United States to allow tens of thousands of children with cancer and their families to have one last and warmest home.

In short, Kathy Hull has transformed “love, smiles and tears” into warmth in the human world, allowing children who are unable to grow up to be surrounded by love and filled with laughter until their last moment in life despite their ill fate and tears.

Kathy Hull aims to accompany the sick children to spend the last moment of their lives to make up for her regrets - by reversing the fate of life and death, and changing their courses to pilot their own value, benefiting tens of thousands of cancer patients or severely ill children to live in dignity. She deserves to be praised as the “Savior of Sick Children” and stood out among 2616 candidates of Loved Life Medal from all walks of life in the world and won the “21st Fervent Global Love of Lives Award” in 2018 from Chou, Ta-Kuan Foundation in Taiwan. The Foundation always welcomes recommendations for life warriors from all walks of life in the world who are hardworking, benevolent, courageous, and have made great accomplishments, etc. (Fervent Global Love of Lives Award recommendation hotline of Chou, Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation of Taiwan: 02-29178770, Fax: 02-29178768, Address: 3F, No. 52, Mingde Road, Xindian District, New Taipei City, Website: http://www.ta.org.tw, e-mail: ta88ms17@gmail.com).

Established George Mark Children’s House to help ill-fated children
Kathy Hull is an American psychologist who previously worked in the Oncology Department of the Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, and the patients she looked after were patients suffering from terminal cancer. These patients’ ages were very young, such as babies, young children and adolescents. If not suffered from serious illnesses, they should have a promising future. In other words, some children were too late to grow up but forced to die early in the world.

As a psychiatrist in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Kathy Hull is most frustrated by the fact that so many children could not see a good end, and their family must endure their death without dignity.

Prior to parting, the children death may be accompanied by the medical staff and their family members though, but the environment they are in may not be quiet. There may always be trains rumbling through to cause the room to vibrate, the ward’s fluorescent lights may be too bright, and there are beeping sounds of the instruments, etc. These would make it difficult for the families to bid goodbye to their precious son or daughter peacefully. As a result, Kathy Hull began to wonder whether there should a better place than the hospital’s ICU? Then, in 1996, a phone call and personal experience made her accomplish her idea.
Last embrace from an emergency call at 6am
At 6:00am in the morning at one weekend in 1996, Kathy Hull received a phone call from her colleague saying that a patient she serves long term, Domingo of age 19 was rushed to the hospital and would soon die. Kathy Hull left her daughter at a friend’s place and dashed to the hospital. She wanted to tell Domingo that she cherishes their friendship, and would try her best to meet his family’s last wish and give Domingo’s mother a big hug.

 Domingo was looked after by Kathy Hull and his mother. As she speaks English and Domingo’s mother speaks Spanish, they had created many jokes in the process of communication. But before Domingo die, tears became the common language between Domingo and her sad mother.

 Although Kathy Hull’s son and daughter are well, but she has also experienced the grief of losing her loved ones. She had two brothers, George and Mark who passed away at young ages, causing tremendous impact to her life. This has let her cherish interpersonal relationships, thereby motivating her to choose a more meaningful work and making every effort to create a better place in the world in her lifetime.

The great pain of losing loved ones and the hospital’s clinical experience have allowed Kathy Hull to gradually shape the vision of GMCH - a peaceful place better than the hospital’s ICU to allow patients to rest in peace and spend their last moment in life being accompanied by their family members.
Memories linger on despite being dead - benefiting tens of thousands of sick children
From a thought to fulfillment, Kathy Hull spent eight years of tedious preparations including fundraising, and finally built a five-acre GMCH in San Larndro, California in 2004 with a beautiful landscape. It is quiet and nourishing, allowing the sick children and their families to enjoy a quality life. Unlike the general wards which are bright and noisy, the rooms here are quiet and comfortable, and accompanied with family living rooms, a garden, a great outdoor playground and special facilities for children with disabilities.

Since its establishment, GMCH has benefited more than 1,200 sick children and their families. At present, there are 18 similar institutions in the United States that are using GMCH as a model.

However, as compared with Britain, Kathy Hull considers that the number of such peaceful home for children is pitifully small. The reason she believes is that the Americans are too optimistic about their medical system, thinking that they can do anything like implementing austerity measures on children who cannot be cured by medicine. Little do they know that the most merciful approach is to let them die without pain.

 Changing the course of life and death with value
The GMCH established by Kathy Hull has already accompanied many sick children to calmly walk through their short lives. There are many examples of positive benefits due to proper hospice care. The most striking example is the story of the sick child, Russ.
The choice of Russ’s family
Due to incomplete brain development, Russ could not swallow, walk, speak or have normal mental development. His parents felt that their child would leave at any time, and they chose to concentrate on the diminishing time between the parents and child. As a result, they moved into a family apartment set up by GMCH and looked after their son closely. Russ was well cared for in GMCH. He was guided by a spa therapist to let him soak in the pool, thus slowing the frequency of epileptic seizures and allowing him to sleep soundly at night. He also followed his parents to hike and enjoy the nature.

After controlling his physical discomfort, Russ lived for five more years beyond their original expectation of “several weeks.” During that period, not only did Russ and his family enjoy the family happiness, but also ushered in two new members of the family: Russ’s younger brother and sister.

Not many people are willing to talk about death, let alone the children’s death. Although the adults did not understand why the destiny of a child like Chang Bai-Zhi had to be devastated, but they could not stop the cruel fact that some children still cannot managed to grow up. Kathy Hull believes that even if the fact is cruel and difficult to face with, but if the adults are brave enough to face it, they can still get a great wisdom from it. She took the story of Crystal as an example.
Life demonstration of Crystal
Crystal was a nine-year-old girl who had a brain tumor that could not be operated. Before she moved to GMCH, her condition had been deteriorating that the doctor thought she had only two weeks left to live.

After settling down in GMCH, Crystal carried her favorite Hello Kitty doll by her side and dressed in pink. It only took a few days for Crystal to get acquainted with GMCH’s nursing staff well. Gradually, her condition stabilized and even improved incredibly. Crystal was not a special case. Many children who came to GMCH had “lived longer.”

Kathy Hull attributes the gradual improvement of Crystal to a peaceful living environment, delicious meals that met her needs, and the warm companionship of nurses and doctors.

A week after arriving at GMCH, Crystal excitedly invited her grandmother to come and live with her and celebrated the remaining four months of her life. During that period, grandmother and grandchild sat next to the fountain, talking and laughing while counting the passing hummingbirds. At other times, she devoted herself to the activities planned by GMCH, helping everyone to string up the beads, painting pumpkins to help decorate Halloween, and even excitedly planning her 10th birthday celebration even though everyone knew she might not live up to that moment.
On one hot morning, Crystal and her friends set up a stall at the front gate of GMCH and sold lemonade and cookies. Kathy Hull chose a cookie and asked how much. Crystal said, “three dollars.”

Isn’t it a bit expensive? Kathy Hull could not help but asked. Crystal admitted with a smile: “I know, but I deserve it.”

That “worthy” word spoken by Crystal was full of wisdom, allowing Kathy Hull to be deeply moved and inspired. She thinks Crystal was well taken care of by GMCH. Each child whose life has been devastated by illness is worthwhile to be taken care well? She believes that every severely ill child can enjoy himself/herself as long as people realize that child safety is part of the regular medical system. Interestingly, the cost of hospice care is only one-third to that of a hospital’s ICU.

Creating magical moments
Although relatively inexpensive, GMCH can create many magical moments for young patients. These patients who were finally settled in GMCH often hinted that they had not been cared well previously, such as long-term being strangled on the sick bed or sat in a wheelchair to receive intensive chemotherapy or rehabilitation. GMCH attempts to ignore all kinds of mobility restrictions and turns all doubts into “why not?”
So, they took a young man who could not watch the next baseball season to see the 5th Game of World Series, and held a talent show to allow the sick child to have fun with his family. After hearing a father sighing that he could not see his son attending the prom and pinning a lapel pin on him, they set up a grand and extraordinary ball in the GMCH’s hall, allowing the lively girl Caitlin to claim that it was the best night ever in her life.

All of these events must go back to the original intention of Kathy Hull who founded GMCH: “Life is generally very short, regardless if a man has lived until 85 or 8 years. In the end, we can’t control our life span. What we can control is how well we can live each day and create more space, joy and significance of life. The sick children are definitely worthwhile for adults to show their unparalleled courage and imaginative power, and try their best to make them live better.”
Helping others and the world will be different because of you
The fraternity and humane care demonstrated by Kathy Hull in founding GMCH has earned her numerous awards, including the Minerva Award for her outstanding contribution to women.

Before establishing GMCH, Kathy Hull had prepared it for eight years. The process was not smooth though, but she clung on to her dreams. She stated that the power that supported her in fulfilling her dreams are as follows:
Cognitive needs: Although there are more than 30 such institutions in Britain, but there is none of its kind in the United States.

Believing in me: Margaret Mead, an Anthropologist once said: “Don’t doubt that even a handful of people with missions can change the world. Indeed, it has always been that way!”

Positioning myself in a crowd of enthusiastic people: I’m very much agreed with the poet Marge Piercy, saying that: “I love people who are fully committed to their works instead of acting sloppily.”

Getting out of pain and creating significance: Caronline Kennedy lost a number of relatives and she relied on memories to live in a direction and purpose of life. When I encountered difficulties while establishing GMCH, I would remember my two brothers and knew that I must never give up. I wanted to do this to allow them to live significantly.
Laughing aloud: Keeping a sense of humor is probably the most valuable tool in life. Kathryn Hepburn explained it best in this way: “Life is sometimes full of tragic nature and I can’t stay out of it. But whatever happens, you must face it with ease and don’t forget to laugh until the end.”

Kathy Hull thinks that love, smiles and tears are the essential elements to enrich the texture of life. Although Kathy Hull, who founded GMCH cannot help children from crying due to their early death destiny, but she can make them smile during their dying days for being surrounded by love. Therefore, she calls on people to stretch out their hands to help. Let the world be a better place by treasuring the children who need you to share strength with them at the right moment!