NEWS | June 27, 2018

Cystic fibrosis diagnosis leads one family to move closer to UC Davis Children's Hospital


Six years ago, the Morales family was living in Oklahoma, when they welcomed their baby daughter Sandra into the world. Shortly after her newborn screening tests, they learned that Sandra had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections, limits breathing and can cause respiratory failure.

Photo of Sandra Morales
Sandra Morales with pediatric pulmonologist Sanjay Jhawar.

Her parents, Louan and Alejandro, had never heard of the disease before, but wanted to make sure Sandra had every opportunity to receive the best care. After much research, they learned that the top two facilities in the nation for cystic fibrosis treatments were located in Northern California.

Two weeks after Sandra’s diagnosis, the Moraleses packed up their family and moved to California so Sandra would be able to receive treatment from Sanjay Jhawar, a pediatric pulmonologist at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“Our family is very close, and at Sandra’s first UC Davis appointment, we had 11 people in the room,” said Sandra’s father Alejandro Morales.

Louan Morales remembers all of the questions their family had for Jhawar about Sandra’s diagnosis and treatment options.

“We had what seemed like a million questions about cystic fibrosis and treatment plans, but the doctors and staff always made us feel so comfortable and welcome, we now think of them like our extended family.

Now in first grade, Sandra sees Jhawar and the pediatric pulmonology team at UC Davis Children’s Hospital every three months to make sure her oxygen levels and gastrointestinal tract are in good shape to minimize the symptoms associated with cystic fibrosis and ensure that she leads as normal a life as possible.

The UC Davis pediatric pulmonology division, which was recently ranked 44th in the U.S. News & World Report's Best Children's Hospitals rankings, provides diagnosis and treatment for a wide variety of respiratory illnesses in infants, children and adolescents. The program offers comprehensive outpatient and inpatient consultation and follow-up of a variety of complex respiratory conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease of prematurity, cystic fibrosis, chronic respiratory failure, rare lung diseases, neuro-muscular and chest wall disorders, bronchiectasis, congenital lung anomalies, airway anomalies, technologically dependent children (children on non-invasive and invasive ventilation), as well as a range a sleep disorders. Their comprehensive evaluation includes detailed clinical evaluation and diagnostic testing, when necessary, including diagnostic imaging, flexible bronchoscopy, pulmonary function testing, exercise testing and sleep studies.

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital providing care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for its critically ill patients, as well as a level I children's surgery center. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. For more information, visit