NEWS | June 16, 2020

With the help of UC Davis Children’s Hospital, pediatric patient gets to celebrate turning nine years old

Cystic fibrosis patient Tristan Killough has big dreams


Diagnosed at one month old with cystic fibrosis (CF), Tristan Killough has been treated for this hereditary disease ever since. Because CF affects the lungs and digestive system by producing thick and sticky mucus that can clog the lungs and obstruct the pancreas, he has been hospitalized several times, including a recent stint in the UC Davis Children’s Surgery Center for adenoid and tonsil removal. There have been so many doctor’s appointments and procedures he can’t keep track. But his grandmother can.

Tristan Killough visits the UC Davis clinic in 2017 for an appointment with pediatric pulmonologist, Sanjay Jhawar. Tristan Killough visits the UC Davis clinic in 2017 for an appointment with pediatric pulmonologist, Sanjay Jhawar.

“From pulmonology to GI to ENT to the ER, UC Davis has cared about Tristan from the beginning,” Deb Kelso said. “We see Dr. Jhawar most often and from day one, he was invested. I have loved him ever since.”

Despite his CF, Killough is a happy-go-lucky kid whom his grandma calls a “social butterfly.” He just celebrated his ninth birthday on June 11 – a milestone in itself – so the relationship with the UC Davis pulmonology team is a longstanding one … nine years and counting.

“Since he was a baby, Tristan looks forward to coming to the clinic. Everyone there looks forward to seeing him, too,” Kelso said. “It warms my heart to see how the staff lights up when Tristan arrives for his appointments. They make him so comfortable. They’re just awesome.”

These visits have not only been important for Killough’s health, but for his spirit. Since CF patients have to be especially careful of air quality, they often have to spend more time inside. A big ask of a little boy.

“I do the best I can to keep him active but the outings to Sacramento help. When he can go outside again, he wants to play football. He's done things like ice hockey and Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathons in the past,” Kelso chuckled. “Tristan loves to dance. You should see his moves.”

With the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, Kelso faces indoor challenges once again. However, there are promising advancements in the treatment of CF so there could be additional help in the future. Kelso looks forward to that day because her grandson has big plans for the future.

“Tristan has so many dreams. He wants to go to college. He’s a great artist. He just loves life,” Kelso said. “I am so glad we are part of UC Davis. To all those who have supported us, I just want to say, ‘Thank you.’”  

And, we just want to say, ”Happy Birthday, Tristan.”

Related Information:

New UC Davis cystic fibrosis parent peer support group launched

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

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