Before retiring, Reta worked in the credit union industry — including 15 years running a trade association for credit unions in Arkansas. When she was in her late twenties, she met, and later married, the man of her dreams.
Her Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) journey began with a bad case of diarrhea around Thanksgiving several years ago. Over the following month, it progressed to severe diarrhea with vomiting. She was in and out of the hospital looking for answers, but her condition continued to quickly deteriorate until she went into renal failure, septic shock and respiratory failure.
Reta’s bowels were dead and poisoning her body. Her doctors gave her 5% chance of survival with emergency surgery. Fortunately, the procedure went better than anyone expected and Reta survived. She was on a ventilator and unresponsive for several days. When she woke up, she learned she had an ostomy and she was diagnosed with SBS.
After surgery, Reta’s doctors told her that she would probably be on total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for the rest of her life, but she refused to let it put an end to her career. She started infusing about three liters over 12 hours at night, seven nights a week. She would hook up to her TPN by 8 p.m. every night so she could get off at 6 a.m. in the morning and get ready for work the next day. Many nights, she skipped out on family activities because she had to get hooked up to TPN.
When she traveled, she had to carry TPN with her in a cooler for the number of days she was going to be gone. She and her doctor worked hard to get her TPN down to 2.8 liters over 10 hours a day, seven days per week, which was more manageable, but still felt restrictive.
Reta’s gastroenterologist mentioned GATTEX to her. She was at an appointment with him one day, and he handed her a sticky note with one word written on it: GATTEX. He said she should check it out and that it’s a prescription medicine used by adults with Short Bowel Syndrome who need additional nutrition or fluids from intravenous (IV) feeding. Based on that, Reta fit the criteria.
Her doctor also told her GATTEX may cause serious side effects, including making abnormal cells grow faster, blockage of the bowel, and fluid overload. Even though he didn’t know anyone on the drug, he thought it might help Reta reduce the volume and days she was on TPN per week. Reta was concerned about the possible side effects, but the conversation also gave her some hope, so she decided to try it.
GATTEX was studied in a 6-month clinical trial of 86 adult SBS patients who needed to use
PS at least 3 times a week for at least 1 year. GATTEX helped the majority of patients:
GATTEX 63% reduced PS by 20% or more
Placebo 30% reduced PS by 20% or more
GATTEX 54% achieved at least 1 day off PS
Placebo 23% achieved at least 1 day off PS
Reta is a real patient
After she started taking GATTEX, Reta and her doctors were happy with the results they saw, and over time they began slowly lowering the amount of volume she was on TPN. Her doctors were still looking at other treatment options, too, and eventually, one of the options they offered was reconnecting her colon. The thought of more surgery was not appealing, but in the end, Reta agreed.
After she recovered from surgery, her doctor slowly decreased her TPN in volume and then by nights of the week. Today, Reta still takes GATTEX every day as directed by her doctor. Her doctor also continues to monitor her condition, including side effects like stomach area pain or swelling and injection site reactions. Keep in mind, this has just been Reta's experience and yours may be different.
Even though Reta still has SBS and bathroom challenges every day, not having to hook up to a bag of TPN as often has let her do things she enjoys, like going out to dinner or a concert at night. Before, she’d have to be home by a certain time so she could hook her bag up. It felt great the first night Reta went out to dinner with friends and she realized she didn’t have to rush home.
Important Safety Information: GATTEX may cause serious side effects including making abnormal cells grow faster, polyps in the colon (large intestine), blockage of the bowel (intestines), swelling (inflammation) or blockage of your gallbladder or pancreas, and fluid overload.
Click here for additional Important Safety Information.