The Real-Life Superheroes of Dell Children’s
Megan Harlan, registered nurse at Dell Children’s Medical Center
Photos by Brian Fitzsimmons
Heroes aren’t born. They’re built from compassion, drive, and hard work. And the superheroes of Dell Children’s Medical Center are using their powers to heal and help kids be kids again.
One of the greatest lessons learned from any superhero film is that extraordinary people with incredible talents live and work among us. But what makes these individuals so…super? Maybe it’s the fact that they don’t think they’re super at all. Or it could be that some very special heroes are working to heal children and allowing them to run and play again.
For Megan Harlan, a registered nurse, and Dr. June-ku Brian Kang of Dell Children’s Medical Center, days revolve around keeping children safe, happy, and healthy.
As the Medical Director of Dell Children’s Medical Center Sleep Lab, Kang works with kids with respiratory and sleep difficulties.
Harlan works with children in the Intermediate Care Unit (IMC), which is a middle ground between the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the medical-surgical floor.
These two incredible heroes move mountains for their patients, but being a superhero is, of course, no easy feat. And for Harlan, it’s not the life she expected when she went off to college. With a track scholarship in-hand, she was going to major in sports marketing and fully dedicate her life to the world of sports. That was until she took a summer job at Camp Soaring Eagle, a camp for children with neurological disorders.
“Camp went by and I was blown away,” Harlan says. “They [the kids] just completely proved me wrong. They got up, got on the zipline, went through obstacle courses in their wheelchairs, helped one another, encouraged one another. It was just amazing.”
It was then that she knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to helping children.
“I finished camp, left the next day, went to campus, and changed my major to nursing,” she says.
Harlan has no regrets.
“It’s rewarding to see these tiny little humans struggle through so much but then come out so strong. And the resiliency just absolutely blows my mind.”
Dr. June-ku Brian Kang, Dell Children’s Medical Center
Dr. Kang feels similar. He originally decided to become a doctor because of the physicians who helped him when he was growing up with asthma.
“They were sort of my role models in terms of what I wanted to become as I got older,” Kang says. “The main driving factor was just drawing from my own experiences.”
Kang decided specifically on the pulmonary field when his oldest daughter had sleep issues early on in life. And because of this, he can easily relate to patients and parents that he works with every day.
“I’m a father of three kids, so to be able to be around kids as part of my career has been the greatest, most positive experience,” Kang says.
As employees of the highest-ranked children’s hospital in Central Texas, the care and empathy that exudes from each of these superheroes is overwhelming. They both responded with almost identical answers when deciding what superpower they’d like to have.
“To be able to heal and cure diseases. That’d be a great power,” Kang says.
It’s obvious that both of these professionals always put others before themselves, as any true hero seems to do. Every time someone steps into Dell Children’s, it’s clear they are going to be loved and welltaken care of.
“Here in Central Texas we have a great children’s hospital with Dell Children's Medical Center, where we have all the specialists related to pediatrics represented,” Kang says. “If there's any concern, Dell Children’s has the resources to be able to help. And all of the specialists here work together to communicate. We are able to work together in a multidisciplinary manner to help these children.”
There is a support system at Dell Children’s that allows families to feel relaxed and a little more at ease when they walk into the hospital, from the colorful walls and playrooms to the activities and the staff.
“Every single person that's here is here because they want to fight for your kid,” Harlan says.
It’s pretty clear that when Harlan and Kang are strapping on their super suits each morning, the gear looks more like scrubs, stethoscopes, and white coats.