Tuesday: Childrens National Medical Centre (Greg)

The next (very early) morning we filled three coaches and travelled to the massive Children's National Medical Center (CNMC). An emotional keynote was the start of the official business: Lindsey Elsasser told of her medical journey and experiences with her daughter Evie, who has a rare form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta. It was fortunate for Evie that the consultant who saw her when she was born had just heard about a new trial drug. Evie was quickly entered into a clinical trial and today she who continues to exceed all expectations in her mobility and quality of life. Without research and new drugs she wouldn’t have survived infancy.

Afterwards we heard more about the purpose of iCAN and each group had a chance to introduce themselves. In various forms we saw the work of other groups from all over the world, some newer , some older, and we further developed ideas for our group and discussed what we can do on our return. We collated our ideas and key points and fed back our ideas on how ICAN can develop internationally. We went in to break out groups of young People, parents, and professionals. We discussed the style of future meetings and formed the idea of a smaller group, made up of representatives of each group, being responsible for relaying iCAN information to their groups and attending future iCAN conference calls and meetings.

After lunch we were given a tour of some of the CNMC's fantastic facilities: a 3D Bio-Plotter was being used to investigate the potential for printing individualised parts of bone or tissue that couldn't repair itself, nano-particles were being tested to help destroy cancer tumours, a Da Vinci Robot showed the potential of an era of remote surgery and we saw how ultrasound was being combined with cystoscopy to potential improve reconnaissance surgery.

Finally, in the evening, as part of an effort to show a taste of America to all of the international participants, we were invited to attend a baseball game: Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves. The game was postponed until late due to the most spectacular thunder and lightning storm. When the lightning hit the conductor on the metal stadium, the loudest crack was accompanied by a collective scream. Despite the torrential rain, the evening was fun, and a great chance to get to know the iCAN participants better.

Washington Nationals baseball stadium at night with floodlights