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Donor Story

Former Pediatric Patient Gives Back to Child Life Program

Lena Papadakis says that her passion for supporting child life comes from her own experience.

Former Pediatric Patient Gives Back to Child Life Program

Lena Papadakis of North Hampton, New Hampshire, was born a triplet, weighing just two pounds. She spent her first three months of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. And for most of her childhood, she continued to have complex medical issues that resulted in numerous hospital stays. You can read more about Lena’s story here.

Now, at age 22, Lena, is a Boston University graduate planning to attend medical school and the founder of Preemie to Pre-Med, a nonprofit organization that raises money for child life programs at hospitals.

“When a child life specialist took a doll and demonstrated what a catheter line meant or what this surgery meant or how to take care of a scar, it made it seem less scary and helped spark my interest in medicine,” Lena says.

Fundraising During the Pandemic

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Lena learned that hospitals shut down their student and volunteer programs, she decided she still wanted to help.

“We had a team of 30 college students who came together and helped make this possible.”

Her mother, B Papadakis, who ran on the 2019 Mass General Emergency Response marathon team as a way to thank the hospital that saved her three daughters’ lives, suggested Lena try fundraising.

Lena Papadakis with her doll from child life.
Lena Papadakis with her doll from Child Life.

Lena reached out to friends in Boston and around the country who were also interested in pursuing medical careers.

They publicized their fundraising through social media, college newspapers and television news. Together, they raised more than $32,000, which included monetary donations as well as iPads and gift cards for the John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

“It was an amazing experience. One of the things I want to highlight was that it was not a singular effort on my part. We had a team of about 30 college students who came together and helped make this possible,” Lena says.

Please contact us to learn more about the John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

Lena Papadakis and a team of her friends interested in medical careers raised funds for the John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

by
Jennifer Nejman Bohonak
August 12, 2021