Four-year-old Bently Barnes needed to get ready. He opened the closet door, reached for his camouflage backpack, then scanned his bedroom for the essentials.
He grabbed his favorite stuffed animal named, “Marshall,” a truck, tractor and his most prized possession – his blanket. He placed them in his backpack with care, zipped the travel bag and placed it next to his bed.
Bently told his mom he was packed and ready to travel from their home in North Carolina to Boston Children’s Hospital. And he was “ready for a new belly,” he said.
By Mackenzie Sullivan
During my senior year of high school, my appendix ruptured. I felt sick off and on for weeks, but it took almost two months before my symptoms got so bad that I needed to see a doctor.
After learning that I had been living with a ruptured appendix for weeks, I was rushed into surgery. And while the ruptured organ was successfully removed—one of my doctors later told me he had never seen anything like it—my health never really recovered. Whether it was night sweats or horrible abdominal pain, I was constantly dealing with some symptom or another.
As I spent weeks recovering in the local hospital, I began rapidly loosing weight. I dropped to less than 100 pounds, far below the average for a 5″9′ 17-year-old.
As a runner and athlete, I thought I knew my body well—and though I couldn’t have told you exactly what was wrong with me from a medical standpoint, I knew something wasn’t right. As the time ticked by and the symptoms began to worsen, my doctors recommended I visit Boston Children’s Hospital’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, hoping they they could help provide the answers that had eluded my care team up until that point. …
As he huffed and puffed his way across the finish line on a bright June morning, Amit Grover, MB, BCh, BAO, had his patient Mackenzie Sullivan to thank (or blame) for his exhaustion. Grover, who would never call himself a runner, had just spent the past 38 minutes running 3.2 miles alongside Mackenzie—and 400 other runners—as part of a fundraising road race he had inspired her to organize.
Almost exactly one year prior, a then 18-year-old Mackenzie was a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), preparing for surgery to treat Crohn’s disease when she met Grover, a then first-year fellow who, along with Randi Pleskow, MD, would become part of her care team. As the two talked, Mackenzie explained to Grover her love of running and, in what he describes as a moment of “sheer naiveté and overconfidence,” Grover promised he’d join the young athlete on one of her many road races the moment she was well enough to run again. …