Coordinated Care and Support
In May 2012, Kayla Cotten, 17, began experiencing prolonged nausea and vomiting that led to weight loss, and she was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) later that month. The hospital team, including specialists in gastroenterology, nephrology, and neurology, diagnosed Kayla with gastroparesis, a condition which prevents the stomach muscles from moving its contents down the digestive tract.
Over the next year, Kayla was admitted to the hospital’s acute care units multiple times and eventually had to be put on IV nutrition, which she was dependent on for 10 months. “Everyone at the hospital gave me huge support,” Kayla remembers. “They kept things upbeat, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Thanks to the help of CHoR and constant support from her parents, Jonathan and Katherine, and four older brothers, Kayla was able to return to school at Salem Christian School full-time in September 2013. While her medical condition is permanent, she relearned how to eat by mouth and now uses the feeding tube for only supplemental nutrition. Most importantly to her, she was able to return to the basketball court this season.
“I got back a good quality of life,” she says. “One thing I’ve also found through this experience is that I want to help people, maybe by becoming a nurse. At the hospital, I learned how much you can be affected just by someone caring about you.”