For parents, the thought of a child being sick or hurt can be a heart-stopper. Fortunately, for those who do confront such realities, there are doctors like Kurt Newman.
Newman is president and CEO of Children's National Health System, known as Children's National, in Washington, D.C. He started there as a surgeon more than 30 years ago.
In his memoir, Healing Children: A Surgeon's Stories From The Frontiers Of Pediatric Medicine, he argues that children are not just smaller, softer adults, and that the differences matter for their treatment.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Medically speaking, how are children distinct from adults?
It starts with size. In some cases, you need special equipment, or you might need special medications that work differently on children. Their biology is different. They're more resilient. They bounce back. They heal better.
And then there's a whole idea about development — for example, the developing brain. You have to think about how that brain is now, and how it's going to develop, and what should we do now so that we maximize the potential for that child.
When you think about a child, they need protection. They're not fully formed or fully mature. Their organs are not what they're going to be. But at the same time, that immaturity allows so much bounce back and so much healing and so much ability. So you have to take both those things into mind as you take care of a child.