Diagnosed with leukemia at age two, Omar Hassan spent his childhood in and out of the hospital. He knew what it was like to be separated from his family and friends, and he valued the time he had with his loved ones.
Faced with a bone marrow transplant in the winter of his fourth grade year, and the months of isolation required by the surgery, Omar had a plan. Omar wanted to attend his fourth grade class, remotely. So, when he had recovered from the surgery, Omar joined his class via videoconference.
Omar’s teacher and classmates saw him online every day. He participated in math, science, and history lessons, writing workshops, read-aloud sessions, and book discussions. He even participated in music lessons. Imagine a music lesson with 32 children playing their recorders in San Jose and one at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford — but they are all playing together online. Omar was even able to attend assemblies, as his teacher brought her laptop and put it on a chair in the front row so he could participate.
It is difficult to express the impact this made on Omar, but according to Omar’s parents and doctors, he was the happiest patient in the bone marrow transplant unit at LPCH. While the other kids felt lonely and isolated, Omar kept up with his schoolwork and all the fourth grade gossip. He was in touch with his friends and teachers and remained an important part of their lives.
Omar had a dream of extending this opportunity to other children in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at LPCH, but that dream will have to be fulfilled by others, as Omar lost his battle with leukemia on April 7, 2012.