Beth and Julian were excited to bring home their healthy baby boy, Blás, until their world came to a halt. Blás stopped eating a few hours after birth. His stomach became rock hard. Nurses flushed out his stomach until he spit up an alarming amount.
“Everything happened so quickly,” according to Julian. The doctors at the hospital where Beth gave birth told her, “We think we know what the problem is, but he’s going to have to go to Lurie Children’s.” So, the waiting game began. All Beth could think is, “What are we going to do?”
Once they arrived at Lurie Children’s, Blás was diagnosed with an imperforate anus, a birth defect where the anus is not fully developed or is blocked. This affects a person’s digestive system and does not allow them to pass regular bowel movements.
Coming to terms with all of this information, Beth and Julian felt overwhelmed. “Blás was only 24 hours old,” Julian said. “It was a whirlwind of emotions.”
After being diagnosed, pediatric surgeon Julia Grabowski, MD, performed an operation to create a colostomy. Following, Dr. Grabowski was able to correct this malformation with a “pull through” surgery. Dr. Grabowski placed an artificial opening for the anus to allow Blás the ability to continue proper bowel movements. “After five months, the stoma was gone and Blás is now healthy and thriving,” said Dr. Grabowski.
Fast forward six months, Blás is as happy as can be and always smiling. “He’s always on the go and doesn’t want to miss out on anything,” said Beth. “I don’t even know how to express my gratitude to Dr. Grabowski. She is a lifesaver.”
By working with Dr. Grabowski, who now leads the CHAAMPS Bowel Management program at Lurie Children’s, Julian and Beth know Blás is in good hands. Through this program, Blás and his parents will have the skills they need to handle his bowel habits through regulated diets, medications, and more.
So far, Beth feels, “It’s really nothing different. He doesn’t really have a strict diet, but my concern is what he can and can’t eat.” This is where Dr. Grabowski’s expertise comes in handy. The Lagunas family isn’t going to let Blás’s diet restrictions take control of their lives. Beth’s hope is, “Maybe we will become a more healthy family as a whole.”
As for bowel management, Beth and Julian are confident in Dr. Grabowski’s ability to answer any and all questions when the time comes for toilet training Blás. “I know I will have so many questions once we get to that stage,” said Beth.
“I’ll be following him for the rest of his life,” said Dr. Grabowski. This is common for those who are a part of the bowel management program to ensure they continue living a healthy lifestyle, so their life can remain as easy and manageable as possible for years to come. “Everything you hear is how the care team at Lurie Children’s is ‘the best,’” said Julian. “Once you have the experience, you know they are the best. You’re dealing with the best.”