Connor Deal
Out of State
Feature Story
Seven-year-old Connor Deal lives with a stretched and unfunctional sigmoid colon that causes him severe constipation and a variety of stomach issues.

He was treated by doctors in his native Florida with very little improvement before his parents, Angela and Mike, made the decision to take him to Children’s of Alabama to see a gastroenterologist. The Deals approved a recommended surgery called laparoscopic appendicostomy with chait placement, a procedure in which a catheter or tube is inserted into the belly button and connects to the appendix and colon. With the inserted tube intact, the Deals could administer a medicated solution to Connor each night through his tube to help flush his colon. Then, Connor would wait patiently for 30 minutes to an hour for his colon to clean out.

“I have to say, he uses his time well during his flush each night,” Mike said. “Connor has developed a love of reading and working on activity books while he waits.”

Connor wears a special belt with a hard shell over this belly button to protect the entrance of the tube from catching his shirt and pulling it out. “Before we had the belt, the tube came out when he was playing on a water slide at a party,” Angela said. “We drove directly to Children’s from Bonifay, Florida, and he ended up having surgery to replace it.” Now with the protective belt, Connor enjoys his favorite activities – playing basketball and participating in PE at school.

“You wouldn’t know he had a medical condition if you didn’t know him,” Angela said. “He is a very loving, energetic 7-year old. He loves school as well as singing. We tell him his condition is nothing to be ashamed of and to tell friends what’s going on if they ask. We are so blessed that his friends and his school administration have been very supportive in so many ways.”

Connor enjoys giving back to Children’s and encourages others to do so through community contributions such as wagon donations, radiothons and collecting spare change. “Ever since he started going to Children’s, all he thinks about is helping the hospital,” Angela said.

Connor’s condition has been demanding on him and his family, but they are thankful for the care Children’s has provided. “We are so impressed with their care for him that we would travel further if we had to do so,” Angela said. “The doctors and the staff always take the time we need to discuss his condition and treatment without rushing us through it,” Mike added.

Research indicates Connor’s sigmoid colon could regain normal function. Though there is no guarantee, the option to remove the stretched section of his colon is a possibility. Said Mike, “We will face that challenge when we get there.”

“We tell him how proud we are of him. We tell him he is stronger than he thinks, and that this is just a bump in the road for us,” Angela said. “We feel so blessed to have him as our son.”