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Caleb Parker

Caleb Parker was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks the digestive tract. Dr. Attard. Children's Hospital Omaha Nebraska. www.ChildrensOmaha.orgPicky Eater No More. 

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At age 8, Caleb Parker's picky eating habits are not too much unlike any other child. His obsession with chicken fingers used to bother his mother Quinette Smith. But not anymore. Today, Quinette is just happy to see Caleb eat.

When Caleb turned seven in the summer of 2007, his body refused to process many foods. Slowly, Caleb curtailed his eating habits. He also grew more tired and began to withdraw. His weight dropped to 40 pounds. It all happened so gradually, that Quinette didn't realize what was happening.

One weekend, Caleb stopped eating entirely. When he tried to eat, he threw it up. Quinette took Caleb to an urgent care center. They said Caleb was extremely anemic and recommended she take Caleb to Children's Hospital's Emergency Room. They ran a series of tests, but when nothing panned out, they suggested Caleb see an oncologist. More blood work was done, but still nothing. In the meantime, Caleb's conditioned worsened. Caleb was admitted to Children's Hospital where a battery of additional tests were performed. His blood cell count had dropped so low that Caleb needed a blood transfusion.

Caleb Parker was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks the digestive tract. Dr. Attard. Children's Hospital Omaha Nebraska. www.ChildrensOmaha.orgOn day 10, the doctors had an answer. The diagnosis was Crohn's disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks the digestive tract. Abdominal pain, diarrhea and occasional rectal bleeding are the most common symptoms associated with Crohn's disease. Diarrhea can vary from mild to severe with as many as 20 trips to the bathroom in one day. If stools contain blood, individuals are likely to experience anemia, fatigue and decreased activity.

Pediatric gastronenterologist Thomas Attard, MD, who specializes in irritable bowel diseases, led Caleb's treatment and recovery plan. After a diet consultation, a series of medications and bone health assessments, Caleb was allowed to return home. About a week later, he was back in school.

Initially, Caleb was taking seven medications. Today, he is down to three medications as well as monthly visits with Dr. Attard. Unfortunately, Caleb's condition is likely to be a lifelong disease. Quinette says his condition is under control and eventually he will only have to take one medication - one that will continue to control his symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Caleb has handled his illness very well. "He has never complained once about all of the medications," she says. "But we don't treat him like he's sick either."

Quinette says she has also seen a turn around in Caleb's personality. "Before he was so shy and inward," says Quinette. "He just never seemed to want to do much. Thinking back now, I think he just didn't feel well, but he didn't know what was wrong."

Caleb Parker was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks the digestive tract. Dr. Attard. Children's Hospital Omaha Nebraska. www.ChildrensOmaha.orgToday, Caleb is active and outgoing. "He feels 100 percent and he shows it," says Quinette. "He's always wanting to go somewhere or be doing something. He asserts himself and isn't afraid to make new friends. It's like we have a new Caleb."

His eating habits have also improved. While he still has a "thing" for chicken nuggets, he pretty much eats just about everything in sight, she says. His once frail 40-pound frame, is now up to 65 pounds.

Quinette says she owes Caleb's recovery to the staff at Children's Hospital. "They were phenomenal," says Quinette. "I can't thank them enough for sticking with Caleb's case until they found an answer. They were thorough; they spent time with us and made sure we understood what was happening every step of the way. I couldn't be happier with the care he received."

You might say that the staff at Children's Hospital turned a boy who couldn't eat broccoli into one who wouldn't eat broccoli. 

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