Just before his fourth birthday, Liam began experiencing some gastroenterological issues. He had trouble keeping his food down and would often choke while eating, an issue his parents were familiar with since Liam had struggled with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, as a newborn.
Liam’s mom, Lori, brought the issue up to his pediatrician. She was referred to a number of specialists throughout the Dallas area until he was eventually diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), which is an allergic inflammation of the esophagus. To control the condition, Liam was put on an elimination diet – removing dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, wheat and fish from his diet.
For the next few years, Liam and his family introduced single allergens back into his diet to try to determine what was triggering his flare ups. After several food trials and subsequent scopes, the family decided to take a break after finding just one food that was safe: wheat.
About a year later, when Liam was 6 years old, Lori learned about a new program at Children’s Health℠ focused solely on children with EoE – the Dallas Eosinophilic GI Diseases and Esophagitis Program (DEEP). She quickly made an appointment with Edaire Cheng, M.D., a gastroenterologist who specializes in EoE and Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern.
“From our first appointment, I was impressed with Dr. Cheng’s expertise and passion for patients suffering with the disease,” says Lori.
An endoscopy revealed that Liam’s level of eosinophils was fairly low, so Dr. Cheng took him off the oral steroid medication that he had been taking for the past three years to determine whether his condition could be controlled through diet alone. So far, Liam is doing well.
As a busy parent of three children, Lori appreciates the collaborative and coordinated care that Liam receives during each appointment.
“We see each of Liam’s providers in a single visit,” says Lori. “Not only does this help ensure that everyone is on the same page, it also makes it easier on Liam because he only has to make one trip ‘to the doctor’ to get everything checked out.”
As DEEP’s Medical Research Director, Dr. Cheng envisioned a program that would seamlessly integrate multidisciplinary clinical care with leading-edge research. She says that the model benefits patient families because there is an open line of communication among all of the care providers – gastroenterologists, allergist, dietitian and psychologist. This multidisciplinary approach is rather unique, as are the individualized care plans that the DEEP team delivers.
“In this case, Dr. [Christopher] Parrish and I discussed the care plan, taking into account the family’s wishes, and then I communicated that tailored approach to managing Liam’s condition,” says Dr. Cheng. “It was a pleasure working with Lori to achieve our shared goal of helping Liam grow and thrive.”
The Dallas Eosinophilic Esophagitis Program (DEEP) at Children’s Health is a multidisciplinary clinic for patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Patients receive support from a multidisciplinary team including pediatric gastroenterologists, an allergist, dietitian and psychologist. Learn more about our program and services.
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