Lindsey Solis had had enough. After months of taking her seriously ill infant to various doctors where she lives in Las Vegas, Nev., no one could determine why her 6-month-old son Noah suffered frequent episodes involving an unusually large distended stomach, high fevers, and feeding and elimination problems.
Lindsey’s quest for answers led her to Dr. Marvin Ament, medical director, pediatric gastroenterology, Children's Hospital Central California. Renowned for his contributions to the subspecialty of gastroenterology, Dr. Ament has spent the past 40 years providing specialized medical care for children.
“I was desperate,” said the married mother of two. “There were times I didn’t think Noah would make it through the night. I didn’t want to bury my son. I thought if anyone could help me, Dr. Ament could.”
Upon the Solis family’s arrival at Children’s, Dr. Ament and his experienced colleague, Dr. Michael Allshouse, medical director, pediatric surgery and trauma, conducted a few tests on the ailing Noah.
Surprise discovered, duplication removed
“The results told us there was an obstruction process but we didn’t know what it was,” said Dr. Ament. “It was clear we needed to do exploratory surgery to find out, and possibly an ileostomy.” An ileostomy is a surgical procedure that allows waste to drain into a sealed pouch on the outside of the body.
“If that’s what we had to do to save Noah’s life, then that’s what we had to do,” said Lindsey.
But once Dr. Allshouse began the three-hour surgery, he found something very unusual. “This is the kind of thing you see once in a lifetime,” he said. Unobservable in X-rays, a second small intestine more than 2 feet long laid side-by-side Noah’s normal intestine.
“A duplication like this is extremely rare,” said Dr. Allshouse, who has more than 25 years’ pediatric surgical experience and has treated many cases most physicians will see only in textbooks. “It’s a developmental defect that occurs when the embryo is forming in the womb early in the pregnancy.”
Liability withdrawn, blessing received
No wonder little Noah experienced so much discomfort. “Similar to a double-barrel shotgun, one tube split into two tubes,” explained Dr. Ament. “The duplication would fill up and block the normal channel. When Noah stopped feeding, the normal channel would decompress and allow the extra channel to empty.”
Dr. Allshouse said Lindsey is a good example of a mother’s intuition. “She knew something was wrong with her child,” he said. “Noah was getting recurring infections due to the second piece, the blind loop. The extra piece was a liability, not an asset. I removed several feet of intestine.”
Thankfully, with the duplicated intestine gone, an ileostomy was not necessary. Noah resumed normal feeding and began gaining weight. “He’s caught up to where he should be for his age,” said Dr. Ament.
Overjoyed with the outcome, Lindsey didn’t realize how ill Noah had been. “He’s so healthy now – crawling, laughing, pulling on things,” she said. “He’s our little miracle. We’re so blessed. We owe our son’s life to Children’s.”