Ava, Digestive Disorder, Age 4

Most kids love to eat, which is why Ava’s aversion to mealtime concerned her mom Linda. Ava’s weight dropped drastically. She weighed less than 99% of other babies her age. At 15 weeks, Ava came to University of Maryland Children’s Hospital so her parents could find out what was wrong.

Ava was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach does not empty properly. This delayed emptying was causing Ava such extreme pain that she refused to eat. “She was miserable and was crying every day. I was getting about 45 minutes of sleep a day combined,” Linda said.

Once at UMCH, Ava saw Runa Watkins, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist. “While we may never know the exact cause of Ava’s gastroparesis, we did everything in our power to help ease the symptoms of her condition,” Dr. Watkins said.

Due to the severity of Ava’s case, she needed a gastrostomy tube (g-tube) to help feed her and get her the nutrients she needed. Pediatric surgeon Eric Strauch, MD performed the surgery when Ava was 6 months old. The g-tube helped Ava gain weight and also alleviated the pain of gastroparesis.

A Love for Dancing

Three years later, Ava still has her g-tube, but is eating well on her own. “Before her treatment, she didn’t like the world. Now she loves life and has never let it get her down. She’s learned to be a survivor,” Linda said.

Today, Ava is eating well, sleeping well and loves to dance.

Are you looking for a pediatric specialist? Call the UM Children’s Hospital at 410-328-5887.