Ana completes surgery to be able to swallow

72 Ana docAna is a spunky, dark haired, brown eyed little girl from Honduras who at 2 years of age accidentally drank caustic pesticide from a container sitting on the family’s front patio. Her immediate screams let all those around her know that whatever she drank was causing immense pain. As it turned out, the poison had completely destroyed her esophagus, scarring it forever. Over the next 6 years, Ana had to be fed and hydrated by a gastric tube, unable to swallow even her own saliva. 

In October 2010, Ana arrived in Arizona for an evaluation with a medical care team. She would need to undergo a very rare and complicated surgery provided by pediatric surgeon Dr. Tuan Pham, his partner Dr. Ravindra Vegunta, and the surgical team at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. Ana’s scarred, functionless esophagus would need to be removed and replaced with a portion of her colon.

In January of 2011, Ana underwent almost 10 hours of surgery to make a new esophagus using 60% of her colon. She amazed everyone, and after only two weeks in the hospital, Ana was able to drink and eat liquid foods for the first time in 6 years!  

Over the next two months, Ana had to re-learn how to eat and swallow food with different textures. However, it didn’t take her long to catch on, and by March of 2011 she was eating hamburgers, french fries, and pizza.

Ana returned home in March of 2011 after making a quick trip to experience Disneyland. Her family was amazed when they finally saw her eating food. They asked host mom Kristin Mathews how long the new esophagus would last, and Kristin was thrilled to tell them “para siempre” (forever).

Ana was able to receive help thanks to generous donors and the support of a local hospital, such as Cardon Children’s Medical Center. Visit our web site to see more of our hospital partners.