Jake—a teenager with an interest in football and a goal of going to medical school—is forging a new path toward a bright future after a prolonged battle with an illness that was challenging to diagnose and led to some worrying health situations.
Managing a prolonged, complicated illness is never easy, but it can be especially distressing when healthcare professionals can't immediately identify what is causing the ailment. For Jake, the symptoms started as a child – pain on his right side, nausea, vomiting and other serious symptoms that led to frequent trips to the emergency room.
"I can't even count how many times he went to the emergency room and then was admitted into the hospital," said his mother, Danielle, a senior director of Human Resources at Baxter. "There were years where he would miss more than 65 days of school due to his illness."
Physicians tried multiple treatments and interventions over the next five years to no avail.
Not ones to back down from a challenge, Danielle and Jake continued to consult with other healthcare professionals to understand what was causing Jake's illness and identify a treatment. They found hope at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, where physicians and nurses took immediate action. Jake's condition had deteriorated to the point where he required Baxter fluid and nutrition support. In the meantime, his care team examined his case history and performed physical exams and advanced gut motility (movement of the digestive system) tests to find the cause of—and hopefully a treatment for—his illness.
"It takes a doctor with intellectual curiosity to figure out a case like this," said Danielle. "Our gastrointestinal motility physician and the pediatric surgeon team were able to determine that there was an abdominal nerve entrapment on the right side of Jake’s abdomen, and a significant motility issue in Jake's colon. The doctor team mobilized and came up with a plan to address it. All the while, Baxter fluids and nutrition were helping him get back on track."
The intervention was effective, and the next summer Jake was cleared to play sports and earned a spot on his freshman high school football team. In addition to sports and school, Jake has his eyes on a future goal: medical school, where he aims to specialize in pediatric gastroenterology so he can help children and adolescents like himself.
"It's very easy for me to take pride in my job when I see my child recovering thanks in part to Baxter products," said Danielle. "There's something special about being part of an organization dedicated to saving and sustaining lives. This is why I do what I do."