Iris Abbott

For much of her young life, Iris Abbott has been suffering from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease of her digestive tract. Iris was also born with hereditary spherocytosis (HS), a blood disorder that causes low hemoglobin, anemia, jaundice and an enlarged spleen. These complicated illnesses led to severe chronic symptoms affecting many functions of Iris’s body.

Iris spent many years on different medications, following a strict diet, and taking supplements to manage the symptoms. However, it was during her early teenage years when “life became very interesting,” recall Iris’s parents, Celeste and Russell.

“Iris could not gain weight, was not approaching puberty, and could not stay hydrated. Iris was hospitalized at Gundersen Health System ten times, mainly due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances,” they add. With both conditions inflicting havoc on Iris’s body, in 2015 they made a bold decision. Iris’s colon was removed and a feeding tube put in to her stomach so she can get the nutrients her body desperately needed. While a drastic move, her mother reports, Iris now has gained weight and grown more than three inches.

During her many hospital stays, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals helped Iris’s family with gas cards for their frequent trips to Gundersen from their Caledonia, Minn., home. They also received meal vouchers. “It is stressful to be away from home and with a child in the hospital. Having CMN Hospitals staff listen, encourage and help is priceless,” says Celeste.

“The best thing is Iris can now participate in numerous activities which were impossible before because she was too sick.” She has not missed any events due to illness or hospitalization since the surgery,” Celeste says.

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