During a recent visit to Boston Children’s Hospital, three-year-old Gassen Boabed quietly entered the waiting room of the hospital’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.
With Mom and big brother in tow, the tiny toddler, boasting a pretty pink headband and nail polish to match, sat at a child-sized table, picked up crayons and started coloring. She was at ease, and her surroundings were familiar.
For the past year and a half, Gassen, a native of Bahrain, a small island country east of Saudi Arabia, has been receiving treatment at Boston Children’s for a rare and debilitating condition called very early onset (VEO) inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The condition, which affects infants and children under 5, causes severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, and it slows growth. The cause(s) of VEO-IBD remain unknown but likely include a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
“Boston Children’s has been taking very good care of Gassen and us as well,” says Gassen’s mother Manal, with the assistance of an interpreter from the hospital’s Interpreter Services Department. “The way they have been dealing with her case has been excellent.”