Battling Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Battling Necrotizing Enterocolitis
March 27, 2018

Vincent was born on February 8th 2018 at 39 weeks and weighed a healthy 7lb. 15oz. He was discharged from the hospital and joined his two older siblings at home- everything seemed normal. “He seemed healthy and happy and he never cried unless he had a dirty diaper,” says Katie, Vincent’s mom.

But on February 18th, when he was just 10 days old, Katie and her husband Dan noticed that he was having gastric discomfort, passing a lot of gas and unable to have a bowel movement. “His stomach was rock hard and he began having yellow diarrhea while screaming in pain, so after calling our pediatrician, we headed to our local ER,” says Katie.  “Not long after, we were transferred to Lurie Children’s.”

Upon arrival, Vincent immediately had an X-ray on his stomach. He was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a devastating disease that affects mostly the intestine of premature infants. The wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria, which can cause local infection and inflammation that can ultimately destroy the wall of the bowel (intestine). “My husband and I had never heard of NEC and we had no idea how serious it was or how fast NEC can spread once it starts,” says Katie.

Vincent has now been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for three weeks. He received antibiotics for two weeks and then eventually underwent surgery with pediatric surgeon Julia Grabowski, MD, to fix the damage to his colon caused by NEC. “He’s our little trooper and is now doing well. We are hopeful that he will have a full recovery,” says Katie.  “Our experience with Lurie Children’s and specifically the NICU has been wonderful.  We know our son is in great hands here. The nurses, doctors, and surgeons really care about their patients. They monitor him closely and explain everything that is happening to us. The social worker and child life specialist have also been great and very helpful with our other two children at home. Volunteers stop in to check on us, pray with us, and make sure we have anything we need. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the people here and we cannot thank the NICU staff and Transport Team enough for saving our sons life.”


Learn More about NEC

Dr. Catherine Hunter’s, Pediatric Surgery, NEC research to keep preemies safe from deadly disease

Lurie Children’s pediatric surgeon and Stanely Manne Children’s Research Insitute scientist Catherine Hunter, MD, received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant supporting her research into a potentially deadly disease affecting premature babies, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a bacterial infection that causes the intestinal lining to break down. Dr. Hunter calls the devastating disease a “complex puzzle” that only a handful of major research labs are trying to solve. Dr. Hunter hopes the NIH grant will enable her to build upon her earlier discoveries of possible inhibitors to prevent NEC—discoveries that may eventually lead to therapeutic clinical trials.