Eighteen-year-old Allison Pollock and 16-year-old Sam Kase have a lot in common, but it was a shared surgery that drew them together. After Sam read an article in Boston Children's Hospital's Dream magazine online, the two teens found support—and new friendship—in each other.
Like Allison, Sam grew up with breathing and swallowing problems due to an abnormal opening between his esophagus and larynx-trachea. When breathing or drinking, air and liquids would often go into Sam's lungs, which would make him inhale deeply and sometimes choke. Allison also had trouble breathing and swallowing, and felt lethargic and had recurring bouts of pneumonia. After many years of evaluation, Allison came to Children's and was diagnosed as having a rare abnormality called a laryngeal cleft—a defect in the separation between the larynx, or voice box, and the esophagus. For both teenagers, part of growing up meant making multiple visits to specialists' offices, trying out many medications and having surgery.