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Patient Gabrielle Aldea

Surgery Repairs Urological Condition

When Gabrielle Aldea was born with a bladder the size of a thimble, her mom, Chrischa, knew this was the beginning of a long road for her daughter. Gabrielle began to have chronic and reoccurring kidney and urinary tract infections and Gabrielle had to be catheterized every two hours.

“For the first 7 years of her life, few doctors could help us,” Chrischa said. “We were in and out of the hospital several times each year with kidney and urinary tract infections.”

But when Gabrielle’s grandmother saw an article about Dr. Anthony Atala’s work growing bladders for children, she told Chrischa, “We have to go to Winston-Salem and see if he can help.” 

Gabrielle wasn’t a candidate for laboratory-grown bladder, but Pediatric Urologist Dr. Gordon McLorie felt he could help her surgically. Dr. McLorie carefully crafted a bladder for Gabrielle out of her large intestines.

“My daughter is now eight and no longer suffering either physically or socially because of her condition,” Chrischa said. “He was the first doctor we talked with, that considered her physical and emotional growth in his plan to help her get better. We had an amazing experience at Brenner Children’s Hospital. Dr. McLorie and his team could not have been better.”

While Gabrielle’s condition is rare, Dr. McLorie says he sees patients with chronic kidney and urinary tract infection frequently. “We have to determine if the infections are something the child’s urinary tract system will correct as the child grows or if there is an underlying problem that needs to be surgically corrected, as was Gabrielle’s case.”

Only about 40 percent of patients need surgery to correct a problem with their urinary tract, McLorie said. Brenner Children’s Hospital has three pediatric urologists, McLorie and Drs. Anthony Atala and Steve Hodges, who treat both simple and complex pediatric urological conditions, ranging from bedwetting and frequent infections to surgically repairing bladders and kidneys.

“Most of the time, as a child’s urinary system develops, they will outgrow a number of problems, however, some children do require surgery and we have a team of three pediatric-trained, urologic surgeons, and pediatric nurses and staff ready to help those patients get well and continue to mature,” said Dr. Hodges.

For Chrischa Ives, seeing her daughter grow, thrive and enjoy life has made her grateful for places like Brenner Children’s Hospital.

“My daughter can now attend slumber parties, have friends over and lead a normal life,” she said. “I’m just thrilled with that.”

For more information about pediatric urologic services at Brenner Children’s Hospital, call the Department of Urology at 336-716-4131.  New patients may call 336-716-WAKEor 888-716-WAKE.