Stories about: Miracles from Heaven

Listening to Tanner: Finding help for a functional gastrointestinal disorder

functional gastrointestinal disorder

For most families, movie night is simply an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company while soaking up some mindless entertainment. But for Tanner Chung and his family, a trip to the theater was life changing. As they watched the tale of a young girl with a mysterious illness play out on the big screen, they were struck by the similarities to Tanner’s own story.

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Annabel’s journey: The story behind the movie ‘Miracles from Heaven’

Miracles from HeavenEight-year-old Annabel Beam was on a quest to find the perfect gift. During a 2010 trip from her Texas home to Boston Children’s Hospital, she asked her Mom to stop at the airport gift shop before boarding the plane.

Annabel perused the aisles, examining each item in the hope of finding a token of appreciation for her gastroenterologist, Dr. Samuel Nurko, director of the Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Center.

Annabel spotted a cuddly teddy bear wearing blue doctors’ scrubs. She reached for the bear, squeezed its arm, and a musical rendition of “Doctor, Doctor, give me the news…” began to play.

Annabel’s grin spread from ear to ear. “I want to give this to Dr. Nurko, Mommy,” said Annabel.

The teddy bear symbolized the kindness and hope Nurko shared with Annabel while she managed the rare and chronic gastrointestinal condition pseudo-obstruction. And it remains a symbol of the long-lasting bond between Nurko and his young patient.

“It was a very touching moment,” Nurko says of the day he received the teddy bear. “I keep the bear in my office, and he watches over me.”

This was one of many trips to Boston Children’s to treat Annabel’s chronic and often debilitating condition.

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