At Shriners Hospitals for Children® — Tampa, we provide our care in a family-centered environment. This allows us to create bonds with our patients that strengthen over time. Patients who have been with us from a young age feel at home because they have grown up in this hospital. They have continued to defy the odds, impress us and are a living example of our mission. Christina Lang, 17, is one of those patients.
During a recent visit, Christina couldn’t go very far without someone stopping her to say hello. Her Shriners story began when she was just 2½ years old. Her mother, Shannon Waites, brought her to the Tampa Shriners Hospital after her left leg was amputated below the knee.
“She contracted disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is a rare blood infection from the chickenpox that spread throughout her entire body,” Shannon said. “She was in ICU for two weeks before they stopped the bleeding. They couldn’t save her leg, though, and that’s what brought us here.”
After Christina’s amputation, Shannon’s main focus was to determine the future for her daughter. It wasn’t until her appointment at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa that Christina’s care plan started to take shape. Once it did, Christina never looked back.
“She doesn’t like to be put into a category or for people to make accommodations for her,” Shannon said. “She likes to be challenged and likes to prove to people she can do anything that anyone else can do.”
That determination has helped Christina sculpt herself into a lean, mean, swimming machine. For the past two years, she has dedicated her life to the water. She wakes up early and practices before school. She returns to the pool after school and practices again before heading home. She has committed her life to being a competitive swimmer.
“She is setting her eyes on competing with Team U.S.A. in the 2020 Olympic Games,” Shannon said. “There are lots of steps we have to take in between for her to get there, but that is the track we are on, and that is what she is working toward.”
In the meantime, Christina continues to win meets, break records and shave seconds off her timed swims. Reflecting on how far her daughter has come, Shannon credits Shriners Hospitals for Children® - Tampa for being Christina’s launching point for success.
“Everything we’ve learned, we’ve learned here.” Shannon said. “From how to cope after revision surgeries on her leg to how to get Christina involved with Paralympic swimming. This hospital has fostered an environment of healing and growth that has created a community for Christina. That makes [the Tampa] Shriners as much a family as anyone could ever be.”