Stories about: intestinal transplant

When transplant isn’t the only option

Ariana, who has pseudo-obstruction and was able to avoid an intestinal transplant, with her mom Nine-year-old Ariana Dufane is happiest when she’s tumbling, whether she’s launching herself off the ground for a cartwheel or practicing how to perform the perfect split. In that moment, the fourth-grader focuses on nothing but strength and balance, a skill she has refined, not just in gymnastics but in life.

Born with intestinal pseudo-obstruction — a disorder of abnormal intestinal motility function that may cause the body to go into intestinal failure — Ariana’s first few months were spent in and out of emergency rooms. Her symptoms began with a distended belly and an inability to have a bowel movement.

“I could tell she was in horrible pain and I didn’t know why,” says Ariana’s mom, Lisandy Jimenez. “She would cry and break out in a sweat.”

Lisandy tried everything — removing milk from Ariana’s diet, a special formula, antibiotics and other medications. When the options ran out, she took Ariana to a gastrointestinal specialist near their home in Stamford, Connecticut. And, when he ran out of options, she traveled to a major medical center in Philadelphia.

“That’s when we got the diagnosis that it was pseudo-obstruction,” Lisandy says.

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Nathan’s wild ride: An appendectomy, two transplants and the journey ahead

Nathan - intestine and kidney transplant recipient
Nathan, pre-transplant, during his Make-A-Wish trip to the San Diego Zoo

When the phone rang at the Natale family home in Loudonville, New York, during the early morning hours of Jan. 12, 2013, Nathan Natale knew exactly what it meant.

“My little sister had someone sleeping over. And I was like, ‘hello parents of friend, we gotta go.’”

The phone call was from Boston Children’s Hospital. A donor match had been found. The Natales quickly packed, hopped in the car and began the three-hour journey to the hospital for Nathan’s kidney and intestine transplant. But Nathan’s transplant journey didn’t begin here. It began five years earlier following a routine surgery.

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