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27 Jul 2019, 10:04 a.m.

Stood in the Emergency Department of Bristol Children’s Hospital, Teresa and Adam’s world came crashing down.

They looked on as their two-day-old son Reuben was surrounded by hospital staff as they tried desperately to find out what was wrong.

Little Reuben was born in February. All seemed perfectly normal until Reuben began to violently vomit and his heart rate dropped seriously low. He also hadn’t used his bowels since birth.

20 minutes into their nightmare, Teresa was handed a lock of Reuben’s hair. His head had been shaved and a tube inserted. Teresa was terrified not knowing what was going to happen to her baby boy. After countless tests and scans, Teresa and Adam were finally told that their little boy had suspected Hirschsprung disease. This rare condition affects one in every 5,000 babies and means the nerves that normally control our bowel movement when passing stools are missing.

Reuben in hospital

With the tubes connected to his head failing, Reuben underwent urgent surgery to insert one into his groin. It was here, a biopsy was taken which confirmed Reuben did in fact not have Hirschsprung disease. Teresa and Adam were left in limbo not knowing what was wrong with their son and distraught after having to witness the pain poor Reuben was in. Shortly afterwards Reuben and his parents were sent home.

For 10 days Reuben was well and Teresa could start to enjoy those precious early moments as a first-time mum but her hopes were shattered when Reuben began vomiting again. They found themselves back at Bristol Children’s Hospital.


After a seemingly never-ending cycle of x-rays and tests, the hospital team diagnosed Reuben with intestinal pseudo-obstruction, meaning his intestines could not push through food. They decided that he needed a stoma, a hole from the skin into the stomach allowing for him to feed. In order to do this, Reuben needed major surgery. Seeing their tiny baby go through so much was tough for Teresa and Adam and at times they doubted whether they were doing the right thing for him but ultimately, they knew he was in the best possible place.

Reuben and Claire

Reuben even spent time with Claire, our Music Therapist, whilst he was cared for Bristol Children's Hospital

Four days later and Teresa knew she had made the right decision. Not only could Reuben use his bowels but he was full of life.

“I owe Bristol Children’s Hospital so much. Thanks to them I have a happy and chatty little baby again!”


Despite still being under the care of Bristol Children’s Hospital, Teresa, Adam and little Reuben could finally return home and begin to try and have a normal life. They look to the future with uncertainty but knowing they have an incredible team of doctors and nurses on their side.


Reuben is now enjoying being at home with his family!