Little Luke and his big doctor
A serious medical case with a happy ending leaves a lasting impression
When Joey and Laura Bogus brought their son to the Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children Pediatric ER in December of last year, they were desperate to know what was causing his abdominal pain and other worsening symptoms.
The family traveled from Lexington in northwest Alabama to Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children on the recommendation of their pediatrician, who suspected that 18-month-old Luke might have intussusception— a condition in which part of the intestine slides, or “telescopes”, into an adjacent part of the intestine causing blockages and cutting off blood supply.
James O’Donnell, MD, one of the Pediatric ER pediatricians, quickly confirmed their suspicions and admitted Luke to the Pediatric Unit. The next day Luke was in surgery with North Alabama’s only board certified pediatric surgeon, James Gilbert, MD, at the helm.
“Luke’s case was complicated because the severity of the intussusception caused injury to his intestines,” said Dr. Gilbert.
After surgery, Luke was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Under the care of Dr. Gilbert and the Pediatric Intensivist team, led by Maude Dull, MD, Luke spent weeks fighting dangerous infections caused by perforations of an intestinal wall made thin and delicate by the intussusception. He also required three more surgeries to remove part of his intestines and address troublesome scar tissue that formed on the intestines.
By all accounts it was a lot for a little boy to endure. “It was scary, but the whole time Dr. Gilbert assured us that he had this,” said Laura. “He was so confident and that was comforting.”
For Joey, the worst part was when Luke was on a ventilator for 18 days. “Sitting by the crib and he’s just not being Luke—that was hard.”
Luke’s hospital stay lasted 2½ months. The family, including grandparents put everything on hold to better focus on Luke and his recovery. They even postponed Christmas at the request of Luke’s four-year-old sister, Lexi.
“Lexi wrote Santa a letter asking him not to come until her brother could be home, too,” said Laura. Of course Santa obliged, and when Luke came home the family had a special Christmas celebration.
The family also celebrated Luke’s return to good health, which they attribute to Dr. Gilbert and the other specialized pediatric physicians and nurses at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. “I’ll put it like this,” said Joey. “We live an hour away, but if my children have so much as a hangnail, I’m bringing them here.”