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"I could've died on my wedding day"

02/09/2016

Jill Hadad, 30, was married in Wellfleet on September 19, 2015. But instead of celebrating her special day with family and friends, she instead spent the night undergoing emergency surgery at Tufts Medical Center for a potentially life-threatening condition.

Jill had a previous history of gastrointestinal problems (including an ulcerative colitis diagnosis and several previous surgeries), but she had been in perfect health for more than 8 years; she works with a trainer five days per week, eats well and is otherwise perfectly healthy. But on the morning of her wedding day, she woke up with severe abdominal pain. At first she dismissed the discomfort to anxiety, but she continued to feel worse as the day went on – she was throwing up and couldn’t stand up straight while getting ready.

Somehow, Jill managed to make it through the wedding ceremony – which was sped up to accommodate her – and hoped to at least experience the first dance with her new husband. But the pain became unbearable, so before the reception began, she was taken away in an ambulance to a local hospital where she was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction – an intestinal blockage potentially fatal without highly-skilled surgical intervention, only found at an academic medical center.

Jill was rushed to Tufts Medical Center, where she had received all of her previous GI care. Luckily, Dr. James Yoo, Chief of Colorectal Surgery at Tufts MC, was on call that night. Dr. Yoo knew immediately that Jill required emergency surgery - she had a completely twisted segment of intestine that was in imminent danger of perforating. Dr. Yoo estimated she had maybe an hour longer and if her intestine had perforated, Jill could have died, or would have been very sick for a long time in a best-case scenario. In a complicated procedure, made more difficult by her previous surgeries, Dr. Yoo untwisted Jill’s small intestine and removed a piece of it. He couldn’t believe that she was able to get through the wedding ceremony given the excruciating pain she was in – it is rare to see bowel obstructions of this severity.

Today, Jill has recovered well and is feeling good. She celebrated her 30th birthday on New Year’s Day and hopes to have a re-do wedding reception in late spring or early summer, since she, her husband, and her parents all missed the first one (which went on without them). She also wants to become a patient advocate for people living with inflammatory bowel diseases – primarily crohn’s and ulcerative colitis – which affect 1.6 million Americans, but don’t get nearly the amount of attention as other diseases.

Watch WCVB's coverage of Jill's story >