Michael Welsh has faced more challenges than most people do in a lifetime. It started when he was four years old; his mother Heather noticed that he was constantly going to the bathroom and realized something was wrong. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Collaborated Care with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
“We took him to the doctor here at Lancaster General Health and they sent us down to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. That's where he had surgery to remove his colon,” she said.
Without a colon, Michael uses an ostomy bag for elimination of stool from his body. After his surgery, he developed autoimmune encephalitis, a serious condition in which the immune system attacks the brain, impairing function.
“In autoimmune encephalitis, it makes it so you have to relearn everything you learned as a baby—so essentially eating, talking, walking, and swallowing,” said Michael.
Michael was placed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children’s Hospital where he was treated for about seven weeks.
“Children's Hospital of Philadelphia—they're spectacular. People come from everywhere to go there. As far as I'm concerned, they are the best hospital on the east coast,” said Heather.
Michael’s doctors at Lancaster General Health coordinated with his team at Children’s Hospital, where his caring attitude and compassion for others made him a favorite among the nurses.
Michael’s parents are grateful for the care he received, as is Michael, who says that if he thanked everyone at LG Health and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who helped him get well, he would “have to be there two days.”
Following our interview with the Welsh family, ongoing research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia revealed Michael lacks the ITK gene—important for immune health. Only four other people worldwide have been identified with this condition. Michael recently underwent a successful bone marrow transplant that will allow him to be disease-free and live a full, active life.