Stories about: gastroenterology

Boston Children’s through a lens


Will Davis was born with a gastrointestinal condition so severe it threatened his life, symptoms of which began to present themselves shortly after his birth. Doctors monitored him for several hours, but as the hour hand on the clock dragged on, it became clear that Will would need highly specialized care. Barely 24 hours old, Will took his first car trip—an ambulance ride to Boston Children’s Hospital—for complete diagnosis and treatment.

Within hours of his arrival in Boston Will was diagnosed and underwent the first of five surgeries to repair his intestinal malrotation and volvulus—a complex blockage of the digestive tract that leads to tissue necrosis. In cases as severe as Will’s, the condition could be deadly if left untreated.

Treating intestinal malrotation requires multiple surgeries and a good deal of supportive care—hospitalization for the condition can often last for months. In preparation, Will’s father, Gabe, his mother, Megan, and big sister, Chloe, all temporarily moved to Boston so they could be together as a family during his treatment.

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Playing Dr. Miranda Bailey on TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, actress Chandra Wilson has seen plenty of staged medical emergencies over the past six years. But Wilson recently faced a real-life medical drama that hit very close to home. Seemingly out of the blue, Wilson’s teenage daughter, Sarina, began having bouts of intense nausea and uncontrollable vomiting. Doctors ran a series of gastrointestinal tests to see what was attacking the girl’s stomach, but the root of her illness remained a mystery for months.

As it turns out, doctors couldn’t find a problem with Sarina’s stomach because there wasn’t one; her brain was likely to blame for her abdominal discomfort.

After much testing, doctors diagnosed Sarina with cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS), a disorder that is believed to occur neurologically but trigger symptoms in the belly. Even though her stomach was probably perfectly healthy, Sarina’s brain was sending signals to her body that caused intense vomiting. The idea of a neurological disorder affecting the body like a stomach flu may seem odd to some, but it’s not unprecedented in medicine.

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