Gastroenterology Care and Research at CHOP

Jacob's family took him to different doctors, looking for help for their very sick baby. They finally found answers, and life-changing treatment, from the team at the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at CHOP.


Gastroenterology Care and Research at CHOP

Laura Schutzel, mother of Jacob: When we first had Jacob, I did not know what to expect. I think I was surprised by how often he cried. He started getting fevers that didn't go away and then I saw a little blood in his stool so I thought we have to take some action. They looked him over and they said he looked fine and I kept going back to the doctor cause I kept on thinking he's not fine. The doctor said it's time to turn the page. You're a first time mom, you're stressed out, he's actually fine -- stop worrying.

We heard about CHOP for the first time from a good friend who was a NICU nurse and at first I thought why would we go to Philadelphia, we're here in New York City but things weren't working in New York.

Eric Lichenstein, father of Jacob: The first time we met with Dr. Piccoli was January 2012 and he was very patient with us and very kind and very candid as well. He was the first person who explained the how serious the situation was.

Jacob was diagnosed with a severe form of inflammatory bowel disease.

And we felt, finally he's being taken care of.

David Piccoli, MD, chief, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition: CHOP is really an extraordinary place to work. There's a commitment to excellence that is really just unparalleled.

Judith Kelsen, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist: We constantly are looking for the next thing to help improve our patient's quality of life using the best, newest technologies that are possible.

Eric Lichenstein, father of Jacob: In the summer of 2012, Dr. Piccoli said it's time that we seriously consider doing some surgery and Jacob had his surgery.  Within 24 hours he was interested in eating cookies. That was pretty amazing.  He'd never been interested in putting anything in his mouth really and trying.

Laura Schutzel, mother of Jacob: Jacob is four and half years old. He's very active, he likes to swim, he likes to play soccer. Because of all the different types of care he got in the GI department from the doctors and the nurses, we've gotten a boy who was very, very sick to being a boy who has a bag on his belly and apart from that, he's totally normal.

Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS, pediatric gastroenterologist: Having a chronic disease changes your life. For one, it impacts on your health and how you see yourself as a child. More importantly you have this label or you feel I'm different from everyone else and for families it rearranges your life completely.

Robert Baldassano, MD, director, Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia:
Unfortunately, inflammatory bowel disease -- it's a disease that's becoming very common, actually one of the most common pediatric diseases now if you are living in a developed country. Because it's affecting a GI tract -- we use the GI tract for a lot of things -- it can be a very disabling disease.

David Piccoli, MD: The inflammatory bowel diseases are severe, chronic, and to date while there's no cure, we have new medications and new nutritional therapies that have really worked very well to help them live normal and productive lives.

Rita Verma, MB ChB, pediatric gastroenterologist, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Right now we are treating diseases as they happen. For the future, and CHOP is well set for that, is to find out why do you end up with celiac disease, why do you end up with a motility disorder. Part of it is genetics but what triggers those genes? What happens? Why do those genes get turned on for some people and not others? The future has to be figuring out what are the triggers and can we prevent them.

Robert Baldassano, MD: One of the real exciting things that are happening here at CHOP is the number of discoveries but also how quickly we're discovering things.

Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS: Integrative therapy is really we're looking at the whole patient. We will be offering patients yoga, meditation, mindfulness.  Generalist pediatricians -- we focus so much on disease and prevention and not as much on wellness so this is a way to combine all three because it's only by creating this holistic healing kind of environment in the hospital that we impact everyone that comes in here.

Robert Baldassano, MD: The microbiome research is a relatively new field in science where five years ago we wouldn't have had this conversation because we just really didn't have the technology to measure the organisms that are within us. But we are starting to now understand how our intestinal environment, the bacteria, the fungus, the virus that live within us -- how that promotes both health and disease.

David Piccoli, MD: One of our major goals for our children is to alleviate the suffering and to decrease the pain that so many of them feel on a daily basis.

Laura Schutzel, mother of Jacob: What's in Jacob's future? I think I have no idea what's in Jacob's future. I think anything he wants to do or be is in Jacob's future. 

Eric Lichenstein, father of Jacob: I would like to thank the entire GI division at CHOP for giving us back our child. It's thanks to them that our son is doing well.

Related Centers and Programs: Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition