The Story of Dr. Huskins And His Twin Boys – Both Riley Kids
How wonderful it has been for Jordan Huskins, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at Riley, that his twin boys can be treated by the same people he calls friends and coworkers.
They went to Kenya – Jordan Huskins and his wife, Abi -- with a solid promise to one another.
They would not fall in love with any children. And they would only stay one year.
They broke both of those promises in a big way, in a good way.
Two years later, instead of one year, they came home to Indianapolis with twin boys, Ian and Ivan.
They had most definitely fallen in love and they adopted the boys.
It was the best two promises he’d ever broken, says Huskins, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
Except that other promise that he and Abi made as coworkers at a Louisville hospital where she was an ICU nurse and he was a resident.
They had promised they wouldn’t cross boundaries from friendship into a workplace relationship -- until they fell head over heels for each other and did. A year later, they were married.
“We joke that all of our expectations or standards that we lay out for our life, we never follow,” says Dr. Huskins.
So, far that’s turned out just wonderfully.
It was 2012 and the couple was in Kenya together – part of the IU School of Medicine partnership in Eldoret. Dr. Huskins was its pediatric team leader.
Within six weeks of being there, Abi was volunteering in the child life area and fell in love with twin boys, who were six months old, named Ian and Ivan.
They are 6 years old now, in kindergarten and doing great. They love sports and playing outside and have a special affinity for mascots – Rowdy, Blue and Boomer are their favorites. They also have a 15-month-old brother, Digory.
But the journey for the twins to get here hasn’t been easy. Both boys have had significant medical needs, Dr. Huskins says.
“It was hard,” he says. “It was clear they needed extra care.”
About a year into the family’s time together, they found out the boys both had sickle cell anemia. They needed regular transfusions. They had stem cell transplants at Riley.
Both Ian and Ivan had suffered strokes related to their illness. Riley surgeon Jodi Smith, M.D., performed intensive brain surgery related to vessel complications from sickle cell. The boys have also been in therapy at Riley.
It’s been a blessing to work and be colleagues with the same people who are caring for your own children, Dr. Huskins says.
It’s made him even more intent on being there in every way he can for his own tiny patients.
Dr. Huskins was born in Lafayette, Ind., the middle child of two sisters, and he grew up in Frankfort. His dad worked in finance and his mom was a kindergarten teacher.
The family moved to Zionsville when Dr. Huskins was in fourth grade. It was there in high school that he learned of his two loves – sciences and math and mission work.
“Even then I saw medicine as the opportunity to combine those loves,” Dr. Huskins says.
He received his undergraduate degree in anthropology from Wheaton College in Illinois. His senior year, he spent six months doing an internship in northwestern Ghana, at a small, rural mission hospital. That experience only confirmed to Dr. Huskins that medicine should be his career path.
After graduating, he spent a year doing research with a neonatologist in Indianapolis, looking at how environmental pollutants and epidemiological factors factored into babies born prematurely and with birth defects.
It was a way for Dr. Huskins to be involved with patients and families in the NICU as he was applying to medical school. He was accepted to Indiana University School of Medicine and, during his fourth year of medical school, he spent two months with the IU-Kenya partnership.
He had come to IU knowing pediatrics was something he would like to do but also with an open mind. And while he enjoyed all his rotations, pediatrics is where he really shined.
“That was when I was the most happy to come to work,” Dr. Huskins says. “I realized the people and the culture really fit.”
After graduating in 2009, he went on to do a pediatric residency at the University of Louisville. While there, he went back to Ghana s a resident at the same hospital he had worked in as an undergrad.
When he finished, his interest in global health had blossomed even more. He came to IU for those two years in Kenya. In 2014, he started at Riley to partner with developmental pediatrics.
Development peds’ patients span a variety of medical needs, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and spinal bifida. There are children with behavioral challenges, such as ADHA and anxiety. Dr. Huskins is involved in early detection -- 18 to 42 months – of children with autism spectrum disorder.
The department also sees kids that have had trouble growing, are underweight or suffering from malnutrition and need ongoing support from a feeding and nutrition perspective.
“It’s about our care for families and being able to see that whole picture -- that we not only want to work on the big growth piece, but make sure they are involved in the kinds of therapies that help them move forward with their milestones and interactions with their families and others,” Dr. Huskins says. “I really value the time we have with families to hear their whole story and then make a difference.”