Stories about: Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center

Faces of IBD: Every journey is unique

Hover over the photos to read about Boston Children’s IBD patients and the care they receive.

Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center treats over 1,500 children, adolescents and young adults managing IBD each year. Whether patients are traveling across the globe for very early onset IBD care, balancing diet and medication at home, school or abroad or living a life free of Crohn’s or colitis after surgery, the caregivers at the Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center understand the challenges patients and families face and support them every step of the way. In honor of National Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week (Dec. 1-7), we are celebrating our IBD patients and the team of physicians, nurses, dietitians and social workers who supported them through their journey.

Learn more about the Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.

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Back to school: 6 tips to manage IBD at college

Danielle LeavittI’m a 20-year-old rising junior at Harvard University and I have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Growing up in Orlando, Florida, I participated in typical childhood activities and was what you would consider to be a “normal” kid.

But I was dealing with chronic, excruciating abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloody stools. At age 10, doctors diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease.

I went from one hospital visit to another and was prescribed various pills, injections and infusions, all of which failed at some point.

During high school, I was embarrassed to discuss my disease. Very few of my teachers and friends knew I had Crohn’s. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to manage school assignments, participate in athletics and still have a social life.

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Climbing mountains: “I won’t let ulcerative colitis define me”

IBD-Mark Donohue 1

Mark Donohue craves outdoor activity. While most were braving Old Man Winter’s 2015 wrath, this 19-year-old Ticonderoga, New York native embraced Mother Nature and hiked to the summit of his home state’s Black Mountain, tackled the slopes in Colorado and pond-skated locally with friends.

Mark says his love of the great outdoors and his quest to climb new personal heights has never been overshadowed by ulcerative colitis.

“I won’t let the disease define me,” says Donohue, a college freshman at Binghamton University in New York. “I take it in stride, stay positive and don’t let ulcerative colitis dictate the kind of person I want to be.”

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Feeding Felix: overcoming an early onset of Crohn’s disease


At just 3-months-old, Felix’s stool was regularly showing traces of blood. Alarmed, his mother Jessica Hsu quickly brought her young son to see his pediatrician, who referred Felix to be seen by Boston Children’s Hospital pediatric gastroenterologist Athos Bousvaros, MD, MPH.

Gastrointestinal bleeding in infants is a fairly common problem, often the result of a change in diet or possibly a food allergy. Because Felix was still in the nursing stage, Bousvaros had Jessica remove some potential allergy triggers from her diet to keep traces of them from eventually ending up in her breast milk, and in turn, in Felix. She spent the next few months avoiding dairy, wheat and soy, but Felix’s condition continued.

At 6-months-old, Felix began eating solid foods in addition to nursing, but the blood in his stool remained. To help, Bousvaros placed the young boy on a probiotic, anti-inflammatory medicine, but nothing reduced his symptoms. As time passed, he began refusing solid food—likely due to the fact that digestion was clearly hard on his system—and within a few months he was getting all his nutrition through nursing. The reduced diet took its toll; by the time he was 9-months-old, Felix had almost completely stopped growing and gaining weight.

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