Stories about: Dr. Tom Jaksic

Isaac’s story: A ‘new normal’ with short bowel syndrome

Isaac stays active with short bowel syndrome

It was the morning after their baby son Isaac had come home from the hospital, and Jennifer and Brian Campbell were performing the same sweet act of bonding as many new parents: giving him a bath in the sink. But as they maneuvered around the room, they suddenly realized something was very wrong. “I fell to the floor and started screaming and crying as formula shot out of his stomach,” remembers Jennifer. “I thought we’d broken him.”

The reality, of course, was that the Campbells were simply adjusting to their new “normal” — something any parent of a medically complex child can understand. Isaac wasn’t a newborn. He had finally been discharged from the hospital after nine months. And his parents hadn’t hurt him. They’d just accidentally pulled out his gastrostomy (G-tube), which provided his body with nutritional support.

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Whatever it takes: Fighting for Michael

Michael doesn't let short bowel syndrome keep him from enjoying sports

Michael stood at the top of the hill, staring down at the glittering white snow. The prospect of skiing to the bottom was scary — on previous trips, he’d refused to try, worried that he would fall. But this time was different. He was ready to take a chance. Attempting to balance without using poles, he pushed himself forward and glided through the powder as his family cheered him on. By the end of the day, the 8-year-old had sailed down the slopes five times, all by himself.

The accomplishment was even more meaningful for his parents, Bill and Lisa Smith, who have watched him fight to survive — and thrive — since he was an infant. “He had some issues with spitting up and turning blue and was diagnosed with acid reflux when he was about a month old,” says Bill. “But we had suspicions that something else was wrong.”

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Reena’s story: A bright future with short bowel syndrome

Reena doesn't let short bowel syndrome define her.

She’s just 16, but Reena Zuckerman knows exactly what she wants to be doing in another 10 years. “My dream is to play on the press team in the annual Women’s Congressional Softball Game,” says the aspiring political journalist. Since 2009, the event has pitted members of Congress against the press corps, raising nearly a million dollars for charity. “When I’m not doing schoolwork or watching TV, I’m listening to political podcasts and NPR,” Reena confesses.

It’s an impressive goal, but one that’s no doubt attainable for this driven teen, who’s been pushing herself to defy expectations since she was a baby. Her accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering that she was born with a serious gastrointestinal condition.

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Advocating for Bridget: Coping with Hirschsprung’s disease

Hirschsprung's disease

On June 20, Bridget Landry celebrated a very special day with a hearty steak dinner. But it wasn’t her birthday. Instead, the 10-year-old and her family were marking the sixth anniversary of the day her ostomy bag was removed. As she enjoyed her meal, her parents, Carl and Laura, marveled at just how far their daughter had come. “For her first birthday, she couldn’t even take a bite of cake,” remembers Carl.

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