PHS student recovering from rare surgery

CINCINNATI — Piqua High School student Elise Cox is recovering from a rare surgery she underwent earlier this month to help treat a condition of chronic pancreatitis.

Her mother Katie Cox explained that Elise first got diagnosed with pancreatitis when she was 3 years old.

“When she was 3, she got really sick,” Cox said.

Elise dealt with severe abdominal pain and vomitting. She was also unable to eat.

At that time, she spent 11 days at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

“They thought it was a random case,” Cox said.

Elise’s pancreatitis came back 11 months later, and that pattern continued, Cox said. Elise’s condition became chronic as the pancreatitis would flare up every few months and she would have to spend time in the hospital being treated with IV fluids and pain medication. Her pain also spread to include chronic back pain in addition to her severe abdominal pain.

After 11 years, Elise and her family decided to have Elise undergo a total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation (TPIAT). The procedure involves the removal of the pancreas and reconstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, including transplanting the pancreatic islets — which are important in the metabolism of glucose — into the liver.

“She’s been wanting the surgery for years,” Cox said. “It was a last resort.”

Cox explained that her pancreas was “very damaged beyond repair.”

The TPIAT surgery is also very rare. Elise underwent the procedure at Cincinnati Children’s, one of only a few institutions in the United States offering the TPIAT procedure for patients as young as 4 years old, according to Cincinnati Children’s website. Cox explained that it is only done in a couple places in the U.S., including in Minnesota and in Cincinnati.

“We’re lucky we’re so close,” Cox said.

The 10-hour surgery was done Jan. 7.

“It all went well,” Cox said.

Elise spent a week in the ICU after the surgery, and then went to stay at the Ronald McDonald house for three to four weeks to recover.

“She’s been doing well,” Cox said.

After the surgery, she is also completely insulin dependent, Cox said, adding that Elise may be insulin dependent for two years and possibly longer.

“She will also have to take digestive enzymes whenever she eats,” Cox said.

While she will have some lifestyle changes, Elise is getting her life back from the chronic pain that she has been dealing with for 11 years.

“She’s looking forward to not having that chronic pain,” Cox said.

Ever since 2008, the attacks would come out of the blue and disrupt her life, but now she will be able to make plans without having to worry about a pancreatitis attack.

Cox said that, throughout dealing with her chronic pancreatitis, Elise has remained very active in sports. Elise plays both soccer and basketball at Piqua High School, where she is a freshman, and she also swims in the summer.

“I think that has helped her in her recovery process,” Cox said.

Elise got her first varsity start playing for the Indians against West Carrollton earlier this month.

“That was exciting,” Cox said.

Elise is the daughter of Katie and Matt Cox. She also has three older sisters, including Allie, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University; Elizabeth, a PHS senior; and Colleen, a PHS sophomore.

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Elise Cox Cox
Cox, 14, treated for chronic pancreatitis

By Sam Wildow

Piqua Daily Call

Reach Sam Wildow at