Sisters Abbey Gaston and Amanda Groves feel like they’ve finally been given their lives back, after both were diagnosed and treated for gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as GERD or acid reflux. After undergoing a non-invasive procedure at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, the sisters have regained their joy for living.
Amanda, who is married and a stepmom to a teenager, began having symptoms first. For years, she had tightness in her chest and trouble breathing after meals. Feeling worse in the evenings, she would sometimes vomit. “I could never seem to get enough air into my lungs. I was afraid to eat, which put me in a bad mood. My health was affecting every area of my life,” she said.
Amanda went to see thoracic surgeon Mohan Kulkarni, MD, whose specialties include the treatment of GERD. Tests confirmed that Amanda had this digestive disorder, which is caused by the deterioration of the natural valve between the esophagus and stomach. Besides having a damaged anti-reflux valve, Amanda had a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm.
Dr. Kulkarni performed a non-invasive procedure called Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication, or TIF, which rebuilds the anti-reflux valve and restores the body’s natural protection against acid reflux. At the same time, he repaired Amanda’s hiatal hernia. He would later perform the same two procedures for her sister Abbey.
A world traveler with a passion for discovering exotic native foods, Abbey used to jump at the chance to try strange delicacies. She eventually had to tame her taste buds when she began having a sharp pain near her breast bone and difficulty breathing after a meal. “I was afraid of being sick far away from home,” Abbey said. “Turning down these foods definitely detracted from the whole travel experience.” By this time, Amanda suspected her sister too had GERD. She sent Abbey to Dr. Kulkarni, who was able to help her as well.
Now fully recovered from their TIF procedures, the sisters are both eating and breathing comfortably. “I am a happy person again,” Amanda said, “and I don’t need medications.” Abbey is thrilled she can indulge her adventurous palate without consequences, and she looks forward to her next trip.