Group for the Improvement of Intestinal Function and Treatment (GIFT)
In November of 2002 Dr. Paul Wales co-founded the Group for the Improvement of Intestinal Function and Treatment (GIFT) at The Hospital for Sick Children. Under his leadership this multidisciplinary team made up of representatives from the areas of general surgery, gastroenterology, neonatology, transplantation, clinical nutrition, nursing, social work, physiotherapy and occupational therapy oversee the treatment and care of all patients with short bowel syndrome (SBS). Their goal is to improve the care of patients with intestinal failure and to create new knowledge through clinical and basic science research.
Short bowel syndrome (SBS)
A condition that develops primarily as a result of birth defects or sometimes from acquired intestinal disease, short bowel syndrome (SBS) usually presents in newborn babies. Because of their 'short gut' these babies are not able to absorb the necessary nutrients to sustain life and require intravenous nutrition to maintain their growth and survival. Although these supplements are vital, over time the intravenous nutrition is also toxic to their young immature livers and can lead to liver failure and ultimately death. For many, survival is dependent on GIFT's ability to protect these babies' livers from further damage long enough for their remaining intestine to compensate and absorb the amount of nutrients needed or until they can receive an intestinal transplant.
Surgery to lengthen the intestine allows for greater absorption of nutrients and reduces the need for intravenous nutrition. Dr. Wales and GIFT have preformed this surgery on 31 SBS patients and the majority of these patients have demonstrated improved growth and have become independent of intravenous nutrition. Furthermore, GIFT has a compassionate release protocol through Health Canada for a special intravenous Omega-3 fat nutrient that reverses liver disease. To date GIFT has used this therapy to treat 30 infants who have advanced liver disease and are at risk of death and 75% have shown complete resolution of their liver function. Intravenous Omega-3 lipids are currently only licensed in Europe, but Dr. Wales and the GIFT team is currently completing a clinical trial to evaluate this product against the current treatment. Dr. Wales and his partner Dr. Justine Turner, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at the University of Alberta have developed an animal model of SBS to evaluate therapies that are directly translatable back to human infants.
Donations to GIFT will allow Dr. Wales and his team to continue to develop and improve the treatment and procedures needed to help babies with SBS. Since the GIFT program began in November 2002, the GIFT team has managed 170 patients, many from other provinces. Infectious complications have decreased significantly, the duration of patient stay in the intensive care unit has decreased by almost half and mortality from liver failure has dropped from 22% to 1.5%. Your support will help further the efforts of GIFT and provide the funds necessary to continue the leading edge treatment and research being done at Sick Kids in the area of intestinal failure.