Meet six-year-old Osenat Ahmadzoy. A vibrant, athletic and artistic little girl living in Stouffville. This month, Osenat started Grade 2. Since starting back to school, she has been enjoying riding the bus, making new friends, and learning exciting lessons in class. 

But that wasn’t always the case. 

After suffering for two years with an undiagnosed bowel issue, little Osenat was forced to withdraw from regular, everyday activities—not only affecting her physical health, but her mental health, too.

“I was so sad for her. She couldn’t go play with her friends or family or participate in her favourite activities, like swimming,” recalled the little girl’s mother, Zarina Akhmadova.

“We tried to search for answers and solutions, and finally, we were referred to SHN’s paediatric gastroenterology clinic for further investigation by our family doctor,” she added.

It took more than dozens of hospital visits and 24 months of distress before the family met a Scarborough Health Network (SHN) paediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Carol Durno, who would help to change the tide.

SHN’s Dr. Carol Durno (left) and six-year-old patient Osenat (right)

“This young girl was so vibrant. She came to the hospital in her best dress with a beautiful, bright smile. Despite her hardships, she was positive; just an incredible little girl,” recalled Dr. Durno. 

At the first visit Osenat was diagnosed with encopresis, sometimes called fecal incontinence or stool soiling. It is often related to long-term (chronic) constipation. Some children with fecal incontinence have been toilet trained at some point and others have not been completely toilet trained.  It can present at any age.

“We tried several outpatient management strategies to manage Osenat’s encopresis  but they were not successful despite Osenat’s best efforts and the support of her family. My recommendation was to admit her into the hospital for a different approach,” she continued. “It had been long enough, the family had tried everything, and she wasn’t getting any better.”

Dr. Durno admitted the little girl for two nights to run several tests and X-rays. 

“After speaking with the radiologist on call, I was able to adjust her medication so she could be cleared out, essentially. By the second day, her abdomen had gone back to normal. Following this, I recommended that she continued to be seen at our gastroenterology clinic at Centenary Hospital. I have an amazing gastroenterology nurse, named Ava. And it’s a real team approach when Ava and I see patients together.”

SHN’s Kids Care program brings together the top expertise, doctors, teams, and specialized services and clinics, acting as a corridor of care for Scarborough and surrounding regions. Its gastroenterology clinic in Galaxy-12 and pediatric endoscopy expertise not only provides consultation and endoscopy, it also provides follow-up care and treatment plans to children with gastrointestinal, liver, and nutritional problems.

For Dr. Durno, Osenat became more than a patient; she became an inspiration and a symbol of kindness and resilience.

“This little one came up from the ward as an inpatient to our clinic in Galaxy-12.She had flowers and was working on a piece of art to thank the Galaxy-12 administration woman who books the patients appointments. Osenat was thrilled as she wasn’t having  accidents and had no abdominal  pain,” recalled Dr. Durno. 

“When I walked into the room, she handed me the flowers and I was incredibly moved—since the pandemic, this kind of stuff doesn’t really happen. This girl was just ecstatic, grateful and a bright light for our whole team,” she added.

Through the incredible work by Dr. Durno and Ava, SHN’s paediatric Gastroenterology team was able to provide the family with a care plan and follow-up appointments for monitoring. 

Within a week, Osenat had returned to a normal life. She is now taking trips, her most recent to the United States to visit family. 

“I was in tears,” recalled Osenat’s mother. “It had been so difficult and scary. I didn’t know where to access care, but every day I thank SHN and Dr. Durno for all their help—my daughter is back.”