Meet Savannah and other kids like her who deal with disease through playing games.

The emotions wrapped up in coping with disease are even more pronounced when the disease strikes a child. When a newborn was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis even fifty years ago, there was very little doctors could do to help the child survive to attend school. But thanks to research, doctors can help children suffering from the disease but the treatments often require the kids to sit still for hours at a time. Many kids like 5-year-old Savannah keep their minds occupied by playing videogames.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that basically fools the body into producing thick mucus in the lungs. The unusually sticky phlegm causes infection and disrupts the digestion system. One of the treatments involves wearing a vest that vibrates for 20 minutes twice a day to thin the mucus and knock it loose. Savannah has been treated this way her entire life, but through it all she remains an active and happy child.

To pass the time during treatments, she logs onto the Webkinz game on her parents’ laptop and plays Petz Nursery on her DS; we’re confident she’ll eventually graduate to more hardcore fare like Pokemon and Super Mario Bros. soon.

The Escapist asked Savannah and her parents to talk about their experience with cystic fibrosis and how research has improved her health. Over the next few days, we’ll be talking to three other kids who have struggled with this disease.

Click here to meet Savannah and donate to help doctors figure out new ways to make their lives a little easier.

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