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What to Bring

You have just learned that your child might have a life-threatening illness. We know that this is an emotional time for your family. At this moment, packing suitcases for your stay at St. Jude might seem like a low priority. Even so, bringing needed information and familiar items can help provide stability and comfort for you and your child. It may help your child to pack a suitcase of his own with the things that are most important to him. You can follow behind your child and pack the essentials.

  • A government-issued photo identification card (ID) for parent(s) (driver’s license, passport or other official ID)
  • Copies of any custody or divorce papers (including court orders and parenting plans), guardianship papers, and power of attorney documents to verify who can sign for your child’s medical tests and treatments. If you have questions about this, please call:
    • Patient Registration at (901) 595-2010, Monday-Friday 6 a.m.–4:30 p.m., or
    • After 4:30 pm and on weekends, call (901) 595-3300 and have the oncology on-call social worker paged.
  • A certified copy of your child’s birth certificate
  • Social Security numbers of patient and parent(s) or guardian(s)
  • For patients 18 and older, copies of their advance directives - such as living wills or durable powers of attorney for health care. (If you do not have one of these and want to learn more about advanced directives, a St. Jude social worker will give you details about preparing one.)
  • Employer information for the patient, parent(s), or guardian(s)
  • Emergency contact(s) name, address and phone numbers
  • Insurance information (including medical, pharmacy and dental insurance cards)
  • Family doctor's name, address, phone, fax and e-mail address
  • Name of doctor that your insurance company assigned as your child’s primary care physician (have address, phone, fax and e-mail address)
  • Prescription medications for the patient.
  • Extra supplies of prescription medications for anyone coming with the patient. (Be prepared for an extended stay, just in case).
  • Car seat or child passenger restraint system for your child.

If your trip to St. Jude includes air travel, pack all prescription medications and important documents in a carry-on bag.

Suggested items to bring

  • Clothing for you and your child to last 7–10 days. Remember: Memphis-area weather might be different than it is where you live. Visit the National Weather Service Website at to check the Memphis weather forecast.
  • A small number of comfort items for your child, such as a blanket or toys. (Only smooth-surfaced, easy-to-wash toys are allowed in inpatient rooms. If your child needs a small blanket or cloth toy for comfort, discuss this with your St. Jude doctor. If allowed, these items will need regular washing.)
  • Photographs of family, friends, and pets to help your child cope with homesickness.
  • Your child’s robe and slippers (if your child becomes an inpatient, hospital gowns, toothbrushes, and toothpaste will be provided).

Download a printable checklist

What not to bring

St. Jude would like to advise you that although marijuana may be legal in your home state, it is illegal in Tennessee, even for medical uses.

Come prepared to stay

If you live out of town and your child is having an outpatient operation or procedure involving a general anesthetic, you may be asked to remain in Memphis overnight. This applies to children having liver and lung biopsies or outpatient surgery.

Any surgery has a risk of complications, and you need to be nearby in case medical attention is needed. So pack your pajamas and prepare to spend the night.

Safeguarding your possessions

Always remember that you must safeguard your own things. St. Jude is not equipped to store your valuables. Patients and family members should not bring jewelry and other valuables that they cannot keep with them at all times.


After your child is accepted as a patient, if you have questions about transport or travel, please call Patient Services at 901-595-4501 (x 4501 from within the hospital).