2018 Pediatric Palliative Care Symposium Speakers

Jonathan Cottor, Founder of Ryan House in Phoenix, AZ

 Jonathan and Holly Cottor's son, Ryan was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, type 1 at 8 months old. They were told there was an 80% likelihood that he would not survive to his second birthday; there is no treatment, or cure…just take him home and love him.

That was 17 years ago. Today, Ryan is a senior in high school and has driven a wheelchair since he was 2. He needs full support to eat, go to the bathroom, bathe, change his clothes, and do his homework. He needs someone at his side all the time. He’s very bright and has a great sense of humor…but he is not cured. We don’t know how long Ryan will live, but we love him immensely and appreciate every day we have with him.

The Cottor family was the inspiration and founding force to bring Ryan House to fruition in Phoenix, Arizona. Living in London, England when Ryan was born and diagnosed, the Cottor's learned that “Pediatric Palliative Care” was much more developed than here in the U.S. They were referred to Helen House in Oxford, England, the world’s first “Children’s Hospice House”. As Americans, they rejected the notion of hospice for our child, but were fortunate that supportive professionals and friends continued to present Helen House to us as a care-giving solution, and eventually, reluctantly agreed to a visit. 

The Cottor's returned to Arizona in 2003, and Ryan House opened its doors in March 2010. It continues to support hundreds of families, with over 350 children having died at Ryan House. And like Helen House, there are no charges to these parents….no added financial pressure, just warmth, caring, and love. In addition to being co-Founder, first Board Chair, and ongoing Board Member of Ryan House, Jonathan has had a 30-year corporate marketing and sales career with global organizations including Unilever and General Mills/Pillsbury.  Now he focuses on his own marketing agency, consulting and teaching.  Holly and Jonathan have celebrated 26 years of marriage, and are excited to be transitioning their boys Ethan and Ryan into adulthood.

Dr. Kateřina Rusinová, Founder, Center for Support and Palliative Care in Prague

 Katerina is a senior physician specialist in the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine in General University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic. She is a co-director of the Center for Support and Palliative Care at the 1st Medical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. In 2014 she defended her Ph.D. in Bioethics. Between 2012 and 2018, she has been a Social Media Editor in Intensive Care Medicine, the official Journal of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. She is an expert in patient-physician communication, ethical aspects of ICU care and publishes extensively in international medical journals.