Ally Winter was diagnosed with short bowel syndrome when she was four years old. Now, she is 17 years old and working to raise awareness for rare and chronic illnesses. One of the ways that she does this is crocheting. She creates adorable stuffed animals for children with rare diseases, crafting them so that they have colostomy bags or other devices that impacted children may use. Ally will crochet anything, and she loves to use her skills to teach people about procedures and rare, chronic conditions.
It started out as a form of therapy for her, as she began crocheting when she was just a child. “I do it all the time and it helps my mental health,” she said to KMTV. Then, a few years ago, she switched gears and began selling her work. (You can order from her Etsy page here!)
In addition to using her talents to inspire or teach others, she also works to raise awareness for rare and chronic illnesses through her Instagram page. Here, you can read more about her journey, see some of her work, and learn more about rare diseases.
Right now, Ally is staying in Omaha, Nebraska at the Ronald McDonald House. She has already been there for about a month; she is recovering after receiving care from Nebraska Medicine. As she’s from Tennessee, she’s excited to continue recovering and return home soon.
About Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)
Short bowel syndrome is a rare disorder in which the small intestine does not function normally, stopping the impacted individual from getting enough nutrients and water. This leads to symptoms like bloating, dehydration, gas, weight loss, cramping, heartburn, fatigue, vomiting, foul-smelling stool, bone pain, easy bruising, anemia, gallstones, fatty liver, kidney stones, spasms and cramps in the muscles, and intolerance to some foods.
SBS is typically caused by the removal of part of the small intestine, which can be the result of a birth defect, injury, disease, or surgery. In Ally’s case, her condition is the result of a volvulus in her intestines. Regardless of cause, treatment is aimed at supplementing any nutrients being lost and managing symptoms.
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