Care That Changed a Lifetime
By Tyler, a Children’s National patient
I was just a few hours old when Dr. Kurt Newman performed the first of many complicated surgeries that saved my life. At birth, I had abdominal scarring. My large intestine was in my umbilical cord and the “plumbing” of my urinary tract wasn’t quite right. Dr. Newman and his surgical team at Children’s National Hospital would perform 21 more surgeries on me throughout my childhood.
The hospital became my home away from home. When things went wrong with my body, I always knew I’d be better once we got inside the doors. Dr. Newman and team gave me a sense of security.
Dr. Newman also gave me and my family a voice to make decisions about my care over the years. He considered my quality of life at all times. He listened to what it was like to live with an ostomy bag, the prosthetic pouch that helps my body get rid of waste. He treated me like I was an expert. Everyone at Children’s National wanted me to live a normal, comfortable and healthy life.
He also knew that having an ostomy meant I couldn’t wear my elementary school uniform. I had to wear coveralls instead and I stuck out. During a surgery when I was about 10, Dr. Newman moved the bag’s location so I could wear jeans and sweatpants. This was a first for me. It felt huge to be able to wear pants and just be a regular middle school kid. I had never known this type of normalcy. This simple change profoundly impacted my life, and continues today.
Now, I’m 32. Despite my medical issues, I don’t have pain or many restrictions. Five years ago, when I called Dr. Newman to say I was going to be a father, I heard pride in his voice. I believe I have my own family today because of his conscientious effort and forward thinking about medical care. Many doctors had said I probably would never be able to have my own children. My son is 5. He’s as healthy and strong and full of life as any little kid could be. My wife and I are expecting a daughter in June.
Children’s National recently launched a continuing care program for gastrointestinal patients aging out of pediatric care. Being a part of it will continue to give me a healthier future. I can’t quite think of the words required to describe the full impact Dr. Newman and his team have had on my life. They gave me a life story.