When Hurricane Katrina hit, Dr. Tammuella Singleton was the only pediatric hematologist/oncologist attending at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans that didn’t evacuate.

“I was seven months pregnant at the time,” she says. “And I was going room by room, telling each patient that the city was flooding and that they had to be evacuated. I couldn’t tell them where they were going, when they were coming home or what doctor would be caring for them. Everybody was understandably upset.”

Singleton says she evacuated 15 patients that day, while also “photocopying every medical record I could get a hold of.”

Among her patients was a baby that was just a month old, an 8-year-old child with a new diagnosis and two transplant patients she says were “touch and go.” Most ended up at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

“It was definitely the most challenging time I’ve faced,” she says. “Our staff evacuated to Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge. When I got there I was still operating alone for about two-and-half to three weeks as the doctors who had evacuated struggled to be able to get back and find housing.”

A month after the storm, Singleton lost her baby.

“There was never a sign of a problem or anything,” she says. “I think that maybe it was just the stress of those weeks.”

Singleton now serves as Section Chief of Pediatrics Hematology/Oncology at Tulane University School of Medicine, Associate Director of the LA Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders and Director of the Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana. Even after suffering her own personal loss, she says what sticks with her most today are the intense memories of her patients.

“Each of them had such a significant impact on me,” she says. “It’s like a movie in my head – I can replay all the details, all the faces of every single one of them. They are with me always.”

The Louisiana Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders and The Sickle Cell Center of Southern Louisiana
1430 Tulane Ave. | New Orleans | 988-5228

Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children
4700 S. I-10 Service Road E. | Metairie | 988-5412