It’s something we take for granted: feel hungry, eat, digest your meal and go about your day.
Unfortunately, for many children enjoying a meal isn’t simple. Or enjoyable.
That’s where Associate Professor Sebastian King comes in. A/Professor King is a gifted surgeon and researcher who is passionate about helping children whose “guts don’t work.” Dedicating his career to researching the causes and developing better standards of care, A/Professor King and the RCH Foundation are seeking philanthropic support to help children with serious gut issues enjoy a better quality of life.
“For children with a gut problem and their families, it’s hard to talk about because there’s a real stigma that comes along with it. Without being able to easily eat and digest, many children miss out on the social aspects of life. It’s hard to enjoy a friend’s birthday party when you’re worried you’re going to choke or have an accident.”
As a paediatric surgeon, A/Professor King performs crucial surgery on babies with conditions like oesophageal atresia, where the oesophagus and stomach aren’t connected, and Hirschsprung’s Disease, where a section of the colon is missing the nerves needed to pass stool. A/Professor King has also started using 3D printing for children born with abnormalities of the anus. To ensure these intricate surgeries are successful, 3D models will allow him to practice surgeries before they happen.
A/Professor King’s research delves deeper into these conditions, aiming to find out why they happen and how they can be prevented.
Often surgery is seen as the cure, but for many children it’s just the beginning of the care they’ll need. A/Professor King is conducting ongoing follow-ups with his patients, measuring how well their bodies function post-surgery, as well as their overall quality of life.
“Surgery doesn’t always solve the problem and by not following up, we’re failing these children. We must ensure that they get the care they need and don’t slip through the cracks.”
A/Professor King’s ground-breaking research with renowned embryologist Dr Don Newgreen is seeing early signs of success. For sufferers of Hirschsprung’s Disease, the current treatment is to remove the defective section of colon and connect the working areas of the gut together. Hoping to remove the need for surgery, A/Professor King and Dr Newgreen are testing the implantation of nerve cells into defective colon tissue. Early results show that these nerve cells are activating this colon tissue and enabling it to work properly.
It’s cutting-edge work that’s only possible through philanthropy.