Only Surgery can Help a Little Boy with Hirschsprung’s Disease

According to a story from, a two year old boy named Rhys from Auckland, NZ has spent much of his young life in the hospital. This is because he was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease, which causes dysfunction of the digestive tract and has the left the youngster passing up to 40 painful bowel movements each day. Parents Jasmine and Michael Andrews are currently trying to raise money so that he can have surgery to correct the problem.

About Hirschsprung’s Disease

Hirschsprung’s disease is a genetic disorder which is characterized by the absence of certain nerves in part of the intestine. This can cause frequent constipation and other symptoms to appear. Males are more commonly affected than females. The condition may appear on its own or alongside other genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome. The condition can be heritable within a family or may be the result of a new mutation; the most commonly affected gene is the RET gene. Less commonly the NRG1 or NRG3 gene is affected. The cause is not clear in all cases. Symptoms appear within the first few months of life, and usually include constipation, slow growth, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It can also cause more severe complications like intestinal perforation, megacolon, or bowel obstruction. Hirschsprung’s disease is most commonly treated with surgical removal of the affected portion of the intestine. To learn more about Hirschsprung’s disease, click here.

Rhys’ Story

Rhys was born via C-section and presented with several problems, such as a hole in his heart and Mosaic Down syndrome. The boy has undergone several surgeries in an attempt to correct his Hirschsprung’s disease and he will ultimately need surgery for his heart as well. The operation for the disease is called a pull through, in which a section of the bowel with the regular number of nerves is repositioned and the abnormal portion is removed. However, the procedure was a failure.

After consulting with Dr. Marc Levitt from Washington DC, the family have learned that another pull through surgery is probably their best chance to eliminate the problems that Rhys faces. However, getting to the US and paying for the surgery is expected to run around $150,000. 

To help support the family’s trip, click here.


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