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Thursday, 12 June 2003

Big Brother star launches Crohns Awareness Week

Big Brother housemate, Peter Timbs, is no stranger to Crohn's Disease, a chronic life-long bowel condition that usually strikes in teenage years.

Diagnosed at age 16, Peter's life has been majorly impacted upon by Crohn's. 'Despite the problems, it's something to be lived with and certainly nothing to be ashamed of,' he says.

Almost 150 children and adolescents suffering from Crohn's attend the Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD) Clinic at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick (SCH,R). In addition, there's approximately 25 additional diagnoses made each year at the Hospital.

For many of these patients, Peter Timbs has become somewhat a role model. On Monday 16 June, Peter (and his mum, Susan) are launching Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week at the Hospital. At the launch, Peter and his mum will speak to patients and parents about their experiences with Crohn's.

'One of the keys to coping with Crohn's is being able to talk about what you are going through,' says Peter. 'By going public, I hope to help other people feel more comfortable with Crohn's, so that they too can talk openly about this disease.'

Other good news for kids with Crohn's comes in the shape of a nutritional therapy which is currently being used by the IBD Clinic at SCH,R. The natural therapy, which is managed by doctors together with a dietitian, helps kids grow and gain weight while avoiding side-effects associated with traditional medications like steroids.

'The therapy results in great improvements in the underlying nutrition of patients,' says Dr Andrew Day, Gastroenterologist at SCH,R. 'This in turn leads to better general well-being and better long-term outcomes.'

'The therapy works in almost all patients, and is directed right to the underlying problem in Crohn's disease. Several recent patients have maintained control of their disease with just the therapy, not requiring any medications at all.'

Wollongong youngster, Jared Chappell, 12 years, is just one of these patients. Diagnosed with Crohn's in February this year, Jared started with the therapy at home, gradually increasing the volume until he reached the required amount. As commonly seen, Jared had prompt improvements in his symptoms, and over the following few weeks, all his abnormal blood tests returned to normal. After eight weeks he slowly started back on a normal diet - with one meal introduced to his diet every few days.

For further information on Crohn's, please contact the Australian Crohn's and Colitis Association (ACCA) on 1800 138 029, website www.acca.net.au.

For Further Information Contact:

Amy McIntosh, Public Affairs Tel: 9382 3578 - Mob: 0411 730 842



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