Embracing Life Again
At age 6, Emma Sweaza became one of approximately 200,000 children in the U.S. diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, an umbrella term for chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis which cause painful inflammation in the digestive tract. Emma’s condition went from bad to worse, and within a short time, she was missing school, afraid to leave home for fear of having an intestinal flare up.
“I had to take a bunch of medicine—sometimes more than 20 pills a day—and have my blood drawn all the time,” says Emma, today 11 years old. “My parents took me to several pediatric gastroenterologists, but no one was able to make me feel better.”
That was until she met Marla Dubinsky, MD, Director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Cedars-Sinai, who treated her with new medications, dietary changes, and ultimately, surgery. The Pediatric IBD Program at Cedars-Sinai provides a full range of patient-centered care that includes nutritional and psychosocial programs designed for young patients. Thanks to the surgery, Emma was able to go back to school and start living a normal life again.
The causes of IBD are still unknown, but Dr. Dubinsky and her team are evaluating genetic and immune factors leading to disease development in children, medication safety, and promising new treatments.
“The Pediatric IBD Program at Cedars-Sinai doesn't just treat my illness; they also make sure that I am eating and growing well, that I have good self-esteem, and that I don't get too sad while dealing with a chronic illness.”