Learning to Trust the Doctors

Miriam - Aventura, Florida
Entered on April 1, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness
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I am your average sixteen year old. I work hard in school, run cross country and track, I am a social butterfly, and I love dancing and music. However, I could have not been the way I am today if it were not for the miracles of medicine. I believe in the power of doctors and medicine to save lives.

When I was born, on March 28, 1992, in Bogota, Colombia, I was immediately rushed to the Emergency Room. I was diagnosed with a very rare condition: a superior esophageal atresia. This means that my stomach was connected to my trachea instead of my esophagus. With this condition, gases from the stomach could enter the lungs, leading to death. There was no explanation as to why this had occurred: my mother did not smoke, drink, or do anything harmful to the fetus while she was pregnant and I was not a premature baby. With this condition I was not able to swallow food and was connected to life support for nutrients.

Two hours after my birth I was rushed to the emergency room and the doctors performed a surgery where they disconnected my stomach from my trachea and tried to stretch out my esophagus so that it would reach my stomach. However, this failed because of the distance between the esophagus and the stomach, which led to detrimental pulmonary conditions. After two or three days, my condition was very complicated, so the doctors disconnected my esophagus from my stomach, took my esophagus out of my body, and connected a feeding tube to my stomach. The doctors sent me home with the feeding tube, which I lived off of for the first year and two months of my life until I was of sufficient weight for another surgery. During this period I lived with a nurse at home 24-7.

The doctors did not know if I would survive or ever be able to feed myself. My parents, who had suffered a son’s death a couple of years before my birth, were distraught over the situation. The whole Jewish community in Bogota, Colombia, constantly visited us and prayed for me to get better. My parents have told me that it was a very hard time dealing with everything and wondering if I would live to be a normal, happy girl.

Finally, when I reached an appropriate weight I had a colon transplant performed, where surgeons took a part of my colon and used it to replace my esophagus. After the surgery, however, I had infections that nearly caused my death. After overcoming the infections, the doctors performed a test to see how well my new esophagus worked. The test was successful, and now all I had to do was learn how to chew food and swallow it. This was a long and hard process, but I overcame this learning stage and today I can eat just like anybody else. After this miracle, my parents took me to Israel for my second birthday as a spiritual trip to thank G-d for listening to their prayers.

Today I am a sophomore in high school and I have grown normally. I have a scar on my stomach, one on my neck, and a couple of others in random places due to the surgeries. But besides that, I am your average teenager with an interesting story to tell.

The miracle of my surgery and my life today led me to trust and believe in doctors and medicine.