East Patchogue teen Thomas Spiotta was smiling ear to ear when he was wheeled out of Stony Brook University Hospital on Tuesday and greeted by 50 of his fellow North Patchogue firefighters.
Over the last few weeks, the 19-year-old with Down syndrome was battling a life-threating illness.
In early July, the active Bellport High School senior, who participates Explorer Program for the North Patchogue Fire Department, began experiencing sharp pains in his abdomen. He soon landed in Stony Brook Medicine’s care, where it was discovered he had a massive clot in his portal vein.
“The portal vein is one of the major veins bringing blood back from all of the intestines to the liver,” explained Stony Brook Children’s Hospital chief of pediatric surgery, Dr. Christopher Muratore.
Because of the clots, Thomas’ intestines began to die. To cure him, doctors completed four major operations, removing about three feet of intestines.
“We identified the major veins with the clot in it, we opened up the vein to remove the clot, then used a clot-busting medication to help restore some of the blood flow,” explained Muratore.
After the swelling went down, blood flow was restored, and the surgeons reconnected his intestines.
“We have a great ending,” said Thomas’ parents, Gene and Jane. “My son was fighting for his life and won the battle.”
Thomas can’t wait to get back to the activities he loves, like re-joining the North Patchogue Fire Department and participating in the Special Olympics.
“[Everyone at Stony Brook] are really nice people; they give me joy,” Thomas told reporters while leaving the hospital on Tuesday. “I am really happy to go home.”
Top: Thomas Spiotta being wheeled out of Stony Brook University Hospital. (Credit: Stony Brook Medicine)