JONESBORO, AR- For many Americans, food is one of many ways we tend to connect and bond with others. We often eat in celebration of life’s greatest moments and even in the lowest of lows.
For one Arkansas boy, enjoying the pleasures of food may never become his reality due to a chronic illness.
Koen Smith is a joyful 4’year boy who has been diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. This inflammatory disease affects his swallowing tube as well as his esophagus.
For the first five months of his life, mom says he was breastfed and extremely healthy.
She also told KAIT 8 that their family didn’t realize anything was wrong until they attempted giving him regular foods, beginning with rice.
Following the attempt of solid foods, Koen began to vomit repeatedly several times a day.
From there, his parents attempted other solid foods that ended with the same result.
With immense concerns, Koen’s primary care physician referred him to The Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Once doctors were able to perform the endoscopy and do biopsies, the tests revealed Koen’s diagnosis.
As Eosinophilic Esophagitis is such a rare disease, the ways of managing it are rather limited.
“We have not been able to find foods that he can tolerate so far,” said Koen’s Dr. Pesek. “So he’s been on that elemental diet, and while he’s on that, he’s done great.”
In the meantime, he enjoys EleCare, an amino- acid based powder that gives him nutrients that he needs.
Mom says he consumes about 45 to 50 ounces per day, and she believes he is honestly healthier because of it.
In support of others battling Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Koren’s mother, Kirby developed Arkansas Eosinophilic Support.
This group is centered around unifying those suffering from the disease and to create hope through advocacy.