Rebuilding an Esophagus
"I was at work when I accidentally drank concentrated industrial dish washing detergent"
I found myself under the surgical care of Dr. Giulianotti for very unique circumstances - unlike most esophagectomy patients, I was an emergent case. At work, I accidentally drank concentrated clear industrial dish-washer detergent, thinking it was my water. The liquid burned my mouth and entire esophagus directly upon contact, and I was immediately taken to a hospital near my workplace in Wisconsin. After intubating me, the doctors quickly determined that they were not equipped to handle my injury. It was clear that I was in very serious condition and that if I was given proper treatment, I could face any number of complications (including death).
My distraught husband and parents frantically debated which Chicago hospital to transfer me to. My father’s instincts screamed Northwestern, but a friend of our family’s, a surgeon at UIC, insisted that I would have the best surgical care if they transferred me there. Moments later, Dr. Benedetti called my mom personally and assured her that I would be put in world-class hands of Dr. Giulianotti. During this terrifying time, my husband and parents were given a feeling of security from the confidence of this UIC surgical team and allowed for my transfer.
Upon our arrival we were met by the entire surgical team, lead by Dr. Giulianotti. In the midst of panic and distress, the steady, prudent, and confident guidance of Dr. Giulianotti calmed my family. He clearly articulated his plan and multiple backup plans to them, to ensure they knew he was prepared for any situation.
While we were hoping for some time before surgery was necessary, my esophagus perforated the next morning and they were forced to take me into emergency surgery. My esophagus was destroyed, but Dr. Giulianotti performed an impeccable robotic esophagectomy under these stressful circumstances. He removed my esophagus and pulled my stomach up, attaching it to a small remaining portion of the organ, which now serves as an esophagus. I’m amazed every time I explain this surgery to people made, amazing is that this major surgery was done solely through two small incisions. Amazing, as it prevented me from having to undergo the many risks that come with being fully opened up.
While I imagine there is uncertainty in every surgery, the severity of the circumstances of my case demanded sound navigation and extreme precision from Dr. Giulianotti.
I came out of surgery without undergoing any complications, and only a few days later I was able to begin drinking clear liquids and progressed to solids quickly. Two weeks after being admitted, I was out of the hospital. It's clear that this is an unbelievable timeline made possible by the robotic procedure.
Only a few months after this major surgery, I was back to my daily routine. I have to eat smaller amounts and stay away from the greasy foods, but I still get to delight in a good meal, a fabulous glass of wine, and I’m even back to running three miles a day.
A few weeks ago I read an article about a man in Spain who accidentally drank the same liquid that I did, although this man ended up passing away from his accident. The reality of my case became even clearer as I read this article, as my accident could have been far more tragic a story had I not been placed in the care of Dr. Giulianotti.
As a direct result of Dr. Giulianotti’s passion and commitment to the advancement of robotic surgery, I get to wake up every morning breathing, swallowing, eating, and conducting basically the same quality of life I enjoyed before my accident.
I am eternally grateful for this man’s talent and for all of the time and energy he has dedicated to his craft. I cannot honestly say that I would be standing in front of you all today if it were not for his hard work and dedication. This man is a surgical genius, and we all need to do our parts in helping him multiply the gifts he has so more people can benefit from his talents. I hope that by sharing my story with you all, you will be inspired to support the expansion of his knowledge, work and passion. In that way, more lives can be healed and saved.
My beating heart is full of gratitude for Dr. Giulianotti and for all those who support his work.