2-year-old fighting little-known disease

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A 2-year-old Covington County boy is battling a newly-identified disease.

Dominica McGraw said her grandson, Jase McGraw,was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE).

Jase McGraw, 2, has been diagnosed with a newly-identified, rare disease.

“It’s a disease that affect the esophagus but also causes severe food allergies,” she said. “This is a newer-found disease that is being diagnosed more and more. Just since Jase was diagnosed, I know of two adults in our community that have also been diagnosed. The effects of EOE are different in each case.”

According to Mayo Clinic, in EOE, a type of white blood cell builds up in the lining of the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. This buildup, which is a reaction to foods, allergens or acid reflux, can inflame or injure the esophageal tissue.

“Damaged esophageal tissue can lead to difficulty swallowing or cause food to get caught when you swallow,” the Mayo Clinic website says.

EOE is classified as a chronic immune system disease.

McGraw said that Jase turned 2 in February, but still relies on a bottle with prescription formula for her nutrients.

McGraw said that her daughter, Holly McGraw Griffen, a Covington County E-911 dispatcher, is Jase’s mom.

“When he was 4 months old, he just felt bad – went from a happy baby to a whiny baby,” she said. “He also felt like sandpaper. We found out later that was eczema.”

McGraw said that due to a high platelet count at birth, Dr. Bhagwan Bang, a local pediatrician, ran a CBC to start trying to figure it out. A normal eosinophil count in your blood is 0-3. Jase’s was 26.”

Dr. Bang sent the family to a hematologist in Birmingham.

“A couple of months, lots of blood draws, a bone marrow aspiration and other tests, and later he was sent to a pediatric GI (gastroenterologist),” she said. “He had an endoscopy that diagnosed his disease.”

McGraw said that at the crucial time that children begin baby food, Jase was sick.

“So, his brain developed that food makes him sick,” she said. “The solid foods he will eat are very minimal. Jase is allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts.”

In fact, McGraw said that milk cannot even touch Jase’s skin.

“We carry an Epipen and he can’t go to daycare because of it,” she said. “I don’t work, so that I can keep him for Holly. In July, Jase, Holly and I will have to attend eight-weeks of intensive feeding therapy at Children’s Hospital,” she said. “He struggles eating real food and if things don’t improve for Jase he will have to have a feeding tube. “