NEWS | January 3, 2013

Tiny infant has a big impact on his community


Though nicknamed “Tiny” by his family, an infant treated at UC Davis Children’s Hospital in 2011 is having a big effect on the lives of children with congenital heart disease in Sacramento and on his community.

Born in Northern California in June 2011, Tiny would undergo the first of three planned surgeries to correct hypoplastic left heart syndrome 10 days after birth, and would be treated afterward in the UC Davis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

Baby Tiny © UC Regents
Baby "Tiny"

The infant received his diminutive nickname from his pre-adoptive parents, Rick and Jean Keiser of Galt, Calif., who already had adopted two of Tiny’s siblings and were in the process of adopting their brother.

Tiny would spend most of his young life at the hospital, punctuated by short visits with the Keiser family. Despite the best efforts of his physicians, chief among them Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics Gary Raff, in December of 2011 Tiny lost his struggle to survive.

“We made some great friends in the hospital, including Dr. Raff and his team, all of the physicians in the PICU/PCICU and his cardiologists Michael Choy and Mark Parrish,” Rick Keiser said. “Everyone was amazing, from the housekeeping staff to Dr. Raff. They were incredible.”

After struggling with the loss of their child, the Keisers decided to establish a commemorative race in Tiny’s honor, the Tiny Smiles Half Marathon, to give back to the Children’s Hospital, underwrite Mended Little Hearts, a Sacramento-based organization that supports children with congenital heart disease, and fund local Galt high school athletes’ physical exams.

The Tiny Smiles Half Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9. On-site registration starts at 6:30 a.m. and the event ends at 1 p.m. It will combine a half-marathon of 13.1 miles starting at 8 a.m.; a five-kilometer race starting at 8:15 a.m.; and a kids’ fun run starting at 8:30 a.m.

The race starts at Civic Drive and Chabolla Avenue in Galt; it ends at the Galt Fairgrounds. The half-marathon registration fee is $60; the five-kilometer registration fee is $35. Registration closes on Thursday, Feb. 7, and is available by clicking on the link here.

Tiny Smiles already has had some fundraising successes, including holding two blood drives and raising $5,000 for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. The race sponsors include Fleet Feet Sports of Stockton; Central Valley Physical Therapy; Anytime Fitness and the Family Life Christian Church of Galt.

For additional information about the race, please contact Rick Keiser at, or 209-329-4692.

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital for children, serving 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 critically ill children. 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. With more than 120 physicians in 33 subspecialties, UC Davis Children's Hospital has more than 74,000 clinic and hospital visits and 13,000 emergency department visits each year. For more information, visit