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Life-changing reconstructive surgery

Kaylee and Tess both love the color purple and chocolate cupcakes. Right now, they are both recovering from life-changing reconstructive surgery at Nationwide Children's. But there is one major difference between them. Kaylee traveled 2,300 miles to get to Nationwide Children's from her home in Nevada while Tess traveled 11 miles from her home in Gahanna. But both their families turned here for hope and the specialized treatments the girls need now and in the years ahead.


Six-year-old Tess was born with a rare abdominal condition called cloacal exstrophy that affected the development of her urinary, genital and digestive systems. In this condition, these three systems are fused together, and are also exposed to the outside of the body because the lower abdominal wall does not develop properly. Tess was born at a hospital in Columbus, OH and taken directly to Nationwide Children's, where she stayed for the first five weeks of her life. During that time she had her first major surgery, to partially close her abdomen and return her organs to the inside. Ten months later, Tess had major surgery again, this time to close her abdomen and reconstruct her bladder. A final major surgery successfully completed her bladder reconstruction. All of these complex reconstructions required the expertise and collaboration of several surgical specialties, including urology, pediatric surgery, plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery.

Through it all, Tess says she loves staying at Nationwide Children's because she gets to watch a lot more TV than she does at home, and there's so many options!

Four-year-old Kaylee, traveled to Nationwide Children’s from her home in Nevada for similar reasons. She was also born with a very complex condition called cloaca and has had six surgeries during her short lifetime. A cloaca is a malformation in females where the gastrointestinaI, reproductive and urinary track exits are all fused together, creating a single common channel. In normal anatomy, these openings are separate.

Kaylee's original surgeries to separate these tracks were not successful so Kaylee’s mom began looking for an expert second opinion, which led her to Marc A. Levitt, MD, surgical director for the Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction at Nationwide Children's. Dr. Levitt consulted with V. Rama Jayanthi, MD, chief of urology at Nationwide Children's and together they repeated Kaylee's surgery, this time with excellent results. She can now do all the things typical four-year-olds do and there are no plans for additional surgery in the future.

Kristie Cassel Thompson, Kaylee's mom, wants to bring attention to her condition and assist other families seeking help. "We're all bound by the limited treatment options that are available and incredibly grateful for the help of Nationwide Children's."

Kaylee will need lifelong urological, gynecological and colorectal care. And because the Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction is the first center in the world that formally integrates all these specialties, Kaylee will continue to have the expert care she needs.


When you help Kaylee and Tess you help kids everywhere.

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