“This surgery has given me my life back,” said Rene Galloway, 52, a former nurse who worked in the emergency room at AdventHealth Celebration.
She’s had nine surgeries over the last 13 years, which left her getting nourishment through an IV on and off for about a year and a half during that time. Because of all the surgeries she had, doctors had told her that she was a poor candidate for future surgeries. Gastroenterologist Dr. Kamibiz Kadkhodayan (Dr. K.) at AdventHealth’s Center for Interventional Endoscopy became her last resort.
There’s been a fear of eating because it was painful, and I never knew when I would vomit, and Dr. K got rid of that fear for me.”
Galloway recently became the first recipient in the world to have a brand-new procedure dubbed a “Candy Cane” procedure, because of the shape of the small bowel before the procedure. A problematic portion of the bowel, which looks like the curved end of the candy cane, is reduced in size by using a repurposed endoscopic device. This is followed by a second procedure where a channel for food is created. Both procedures are done without the need for traditional surgery by using an endoscope and other FDA-approved devices.
After discussing it with Rene and her husband, they decided to move forward with the surgery. Ready to try anything, she underwent the first of two back-to-back surgeries in March 2023.
“When Dr. K. came into the room, he sat down with my husband and I and took the time to sketch these drawings detailing the surgery and how he was going to help me,” Galloway said. “I’ve never seen that from a physician and we both had tears in our eyes because we knew Dr. K. was in it for me and would do whatever it took to give me a normal life again.”
Using an original two-step endoscopic procedure, Dr. K. and his team were able to treat Galloway’s condition, with no incisions.
“We were able to repurpose FDA-approved gastroenterologist tools to achieve a procedure similar to surgery, but less invasive,” said Dr. K.
To say the past several months have been life changing for Galloway would be an understatement. When she came to AdventHealth for her first surgery, Rene had been on IV nutrition for about three months because she couldn’t always keep food down to nourish her body. After her second procedure, she left the hospital and ate her first meal – a Chick-fil-A sandwich and French fries – and savored every bite. She has been able to eat food normally ever since.
“I don’t have to keep nausea medicine and grocery bags on hand anymore in case I got sick,” said Galloway. “I don’t have to rely on Google maps to plan my route based on where gas station bathrooms are anymore.”
Candy Cane Syndrome refers to patients, like Galloway, who have undergone gastric bypass and develop significant and sometimes debilitating abdominal discomfort. Symptoms typically begin after eating and can often only be relieved by vomiting.
The surgical team celebrated in the operating room once the team realized they’d created a successful new treatment option for their patients.
“We’ve been able to offer it to four more patients who have done just as well,” Dr. K said. “I can’t tell you how rewarding and satisfying it is as a physician to know that we’ve described a procedure that may help countless patients in the future.”
Dr. K credits the multidisciplinary approach at AdventHealth for the success of the groundbreaking surgery. By having various subspecialities all sitting together at the table discussing Galloway’s situation, it allowed for more innovation and improved lives for their patients.
“Dr. K gave me hope. It was another trip to the bathroom to get sick, another trip to the hospital and this surgery has allowed me to go back to work full time and spend time with my family again. I can now go out to restaurants and have family dinners and beach days again,” Galloway said.
It’s been a long, sometimes painful journey, for Rene since her first gastric bypass surgery in 2009, but she’s now able to keep food down and lead a more normal life thanks to this innovative surgery and hopes to be the model patient by adopting a healthier lifestyle after surgery by eating the right foods and exercising to fully enjoy her second lease on life.