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Alberto Peña, MD, director of the Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children’s, has made it his life’s work to help children with anorectal malformations and other colorectal conditions live more normal lives – free of bags to collect urine, free of tubes to empty their bowels, free of teasing for a problem over which they have no control.
Defects of the anus, rectum and colon occur during fetal development and affect one in every 4,000 babies. For children with these conditions, the right care is crucial not only to their quality of life, but in some cases, their survival.
The Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children’s is the only comprehensive pediatric center of its kind worldwide. Patients come from all over the world to benefit from its care.
Dr. Peña and Marc A. Levitt, MD, associate director, have worked together for 15 years caring for children with these conditions. Their team includes specialists from gastroenterology, neurosurgery, radiology, gynecology, orthopaedics and urology. Together, they offer comprehensive care and surgical expertise that is changing the lives of children with these conditions.
In 2007, the Colorectal Center celebrated a milestone – the 2,000th child to benefit from an innovative surgical approach to repair colorectal problems. The technique was pioneered by Dr. Peña in 1980 and has forever changed the treatment and care of these patients.
But the care at Cincinnati Children’s doesn’t stop after surgery. Dr. Peña considers it his moral obligation to help these children gain the knowledge they need to be healthy, confident and able to learn and play. The Bowel Management Program at Cincinnati Children’s provides patients with individualized care and education to help them learn to live as normal a life as possible. The vast majority of patients – 95 percent – end up completely clean and dry.
Drs. Peña and Levitt travel around the world to make sure children in the far corners of the earth have access to their surgical expertise and freely share their knowledge with other surgeons. All they ask in return is a commitment from each surgeon to provide education to their patients to help them learn how to manage their bowels.
Children with anorectal malformations can look perfectly normal to anyone unaware of their situation. But if the condition isn’t properly corrected, they can have lifelong problems ranging from incontinence to life-threatening complications.
Drs. Peña and Levitt understand the complexity of these conditions – physical, medical and emotional – unlike anyone else. They are committed to a shared mission: to change the outcome for these children and their families through expert care, education and support for the whole family.
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