Grayson Males

Grayson Males

“I cried and wondered if Grayson was going to die,”
Erica Gabbard and Gerald Males were terrified when their son, Grayson, was born with his intestines outside of his body. He had a birth defect called gastrochisis. When Gabbard was 35 weeks pregnant, she had an emergency C-section due to Grayson’s low heart rate and blood loss flow to his intestines.

Grayson was born with about 23 centimeters of small intestines as compared to 120 to 140 centimeters in a full term baby. Doctors wanted him to get an intestinal transplant. “I cried and wondered if Grayson was going to die,” said Gabbard. “It was scary.”

Gabbard struggled with the idea of her son getting a transplant because research showed the low survival rate for patients. She joined a short gut support group on social media and was referred to Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital’s Deborah Duro, M.D., who specializes in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. She is also the medical director of the Florida Intestinal Rehabilitation, Support and Treatment Program at the hospital.

“Grayson had intestinal failure associated with short bowel (gut),” said Dr. Duro. “In the past transplant was something offered but the way we make parenteral nutrition we are actually avoiding all the complications.”

Parenteral nutrition is a form of intravenous nutrition that goes straight from the vein to the heart and into the liver because the intestine is not able to absorb the nutrition due to the short intestine. This form of nutrition provides calories, fats, sugar, protein, minerals and vitamins to the patient.

The family switched to Dr. Duro and noticed the difference to their son’s care immediately. “Dr. Duro changed his parental nutrition and the next day his diapers improved and were cut in half. He starting eating by mouth and his feeds went up,” recalled Gabbard. “She knew what she was doing and it was a weight lifted off our shoulders.”

Every month the family travels about 300 miles from Dunnellon in Central Florida to the Salah Foundation’s Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale for appointments with Dr. Duro. At the beginning of his treatment with Dr. Duro, Grayson was doing 20 hours of parenteral nutrition and today he is now at 10 hours of parenteral nutrition.

“My goal is to improve the quality of life for our patients by avoiding intestinal transplant, and to grow the intestine back, which we call intestinal rehabilitation,” said Dr. Duro.
This coming September Grayson will be celebrating his 2nd birthday and it has been quite a journey for his family so far. “At one point our lives were consumed about what we could do to keep our child alive. Now he is doing incredible. He lives like a normal toddler.”
Intestinal Rehabilitation Services