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South Florida doctor offers alternative to transplants for children

Tuesday, January 21, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andrea Guidi
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By Cindy Krischer Goodman
South Florida Sun Sentinel, 1/16/20


Grayson Males squirms off his mother’s lap and bangs playfully on the tables in the waiting room. In his black tracksuit, radiating rambunctious energy, Grayson looks like any other toddler. But just two years ago, he came into the world premature, with his intestines outside his small body.

In the weeks after his birth, doctors slowly reinserted Grayson’s intestines, but efforts to save damaged sections of his small bowel were not successful. With only about 23 centimeters intact, doctors told Erica Gabbard her son needed an intestinal transplant — a risky surgery that would set him up for a lifetime of drugs to prevent rejection.


“I questioned everything,” Gabbard said. “It was a horrible time. They kept saying transplant, and I told them not to mention the T-word. To me, it was our very last option.”

Grayson’s condition, known as short bowel syndrome, can occur at birth or develop later in life from trauma or an illness like Crohn’s disease, rendering the lower intestine insufficient to adequately absorb nutrients. The condition tends to be most common in premature babies, a population that is increasing nationwide as lifesaving technology and medical advances keep more of them alive. The symptoms and severity of short bowel syndrome vary but the prevalence is increasing and now affects one out of every seven low birth weight babies, according to pediatric medical journals.

Losing portions of the small intestine can be serious: It’s where nearly all digestion of food and fluids takes place.

 

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This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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