When your family partners with the pediatric gastroenterology experts at Levine Children's Hospital, you know you are getting compassionate, excellent care.
Our team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians and other experts, all trained in the specialties of pediatric gastroenterology and hepatology. We perform leading-edge medicine and have extensive clinical experience in the treatment of common and complex gastrointestinal and liver disorders, including liver transplantation, motility disorders and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Just two days after Oliver Taylor was born, feeding problems alerted doctors to a major gastrointestinal issue. Already being cared for in Levine Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Oliver was diagnosed with total colonic Hirschsprung's disease, which keeps food from moving through the intestines.
Oliver stayed in the NICU for 60 days, and parents Owen and Laura traveled to the hospital every day to check in on him. "The nursing staff there are fantastic, so we were never worried about him being taken care of when we left," Owen said. "It allowed us to figure out what we needed to do to for him."
When Oliver was able to leave the hospital, he came home with an intravenous feeding line, a g-tube, and an ostomy bag. "It was pretty hard," Owen said. "It was a little overwhelming at first because there was a lot of medical stuff to do on a regular basis."
But, even with so many complications – on top of the usual stress of having a new baby at home – the Taylors weren't on their own. "We had a home healthcare nurse who came in every week for as long as he had the central line," Laura said. "And we were constantly in communication with all his doctors, so we definitely felt like we had resources."
With the needed surgeries, Oliver lost his colon and much of his small intestine. He struggled to digest enough nutrition on his own and so continued to be fed through the feeding tube. "He wouldn't eat enough by mouth. There was nothing physically wrong, he just had an aversion to it," Laura said. "It did finally click, but it took about three and a half years for that to happen."
In fall 2014, Oliver had reconstructive surgery to restore his lower GI tract and eliminate his ostomy. Thanks to the surgery, he is now a voracious eater. "He'll eat us out of house and home! If it's meat, he'll eat it," Laura said. "He also likes healthy food like broccoli."
And it's not just nutrition that's gotten easier for Oliver in the past year. "We went to the beach when he was little. He had his ostomy bag and we had to change that all the time when it got wet," Owen said. "Now, he can go to the pool and jump right in and we don't have to worry about any of the issues we used to. It's amazing how far he's come.
After their experience at Levine Children's Hospital, the Taylors became involved with Hopebuilders – a 5K fundraiser that benefits the hospital – and have been a top fundraising team for the past few years. "We know what an important resource it is to the community to have a children's hospital with that level of care," Owen said. "And they do have such a wonderful environment for families and children there."
"And not just from a physical health perspective, but also from a mental health perspective. The playrooms are huge, the pediatric nurses are amazing," Laura added. "We got such good care that we can never fully repay and give back to the hospital and the other patients what we received."
Laura said she remembers Oliver's nurses let him help with his own care as much as possible – taking his own blood pressure, pressing buttons – to help him feel in control and relaxed during what could have been a scary situation.
Today, Oliver is a happy and healthy 5-year-old who loves Legos and chatting with everyone he meets. He is excited to start kindergarten in the fall and is the proud older sibling of three-month-old twin brothers.
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