Short Bowel Survivor & Friends

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 Karen's Story - Mum of Louise Winstanley

Karen's Story

I fell pregnant at the age of sixteen, which was a big shock to both me and my family.
I went into labour at thirty six weeks and after a seemingly long thirty six hours in labour Louise was born on the 16th of December 1981. I was told within a couple of hour that Louise had something wrong with her bowel and she was transferred to Pendlebury Children’s’ Hospital where she was given a Colostomy. I was told she had been born with only 27 inches of small intestine and Mr Bianchi a Neonatal surgeon explained to me about the bowel lengthening surgery he was going to perform on Louise. The operation was done in February 1982. (This pioneering procedure was to become known as the Bianchi Method).
As a small baby Louise vomited a lot and had very loose stools which required a great number of nappy changes. She remained in hospital for some time and it wasn’t until August of that year that she was well enough to come home. It was hard work! I couldn’t really go out for the day as I had to change her nappy anything up to ten or more times a day and often this meant that she had to be bathed and needed a full change of clothes. As she got older and potty-trained life became a lot easier.
At first Louise was on a gluten-free diet but then eventually I introduced her to normal food.
She loved her food; in fact, there was no filling her up! She was always hungry. By the time she was 3 years of age she had caught up with her weight and height and was the same size as other children of her age. She went to a normal Nursery and School. I just explained to the teachers that when she asked to go to the toilet she had to be allowed to go straight away. She did suffer with bloating and stomach cramps but once she had been to the toilet these passed.
Considering the amount of bowel she has got, she has led a remarkably healthy and normal life. Going through puberty was normal and when her periods started she was fine. She never really complained about anything growing up, which makes me very proud of her. The proudest moment was watching my beautiful grandson come into the world on the 8th of January in 2004, then seeing her get married 18 months later. Now at the age of 28 she is married with a 6year old son and holds down a full-time job.