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. …
As the year comes to a close, we look back on some of the most popular stories — from basic tips to second chances to ground-breaking surgeries. Thank you to the many families and patients who kindly contributed to the success of Thriving in 2016. As always, you inspire us. Happy New Year! …
Catch up with the latest news about Boston Children’s Hospital. One doctor talks about being portrayed in a popular movie, while another focuses on talking to kids about bullying, and a team reveals a potential breakthrough in ACL surgery.
Want more? Read these news stories, and see how they impact our patients. …
Eight-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.