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Ministry Health Care Community Report
Community Report

From GERD to Great

From GERD to Great

For nearly a decade, Mark Rasper, 56, Oshkosh, lived with gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, a chronic heartburn condition in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and causes a burning feeling. Only he lived with mild symptoms for a long time, until he learned the discomfort and pain was GERD.

"I didn't feel like doing much," Rasper says. "My health was holding me back."

In needing to better understand his condition, Rasper and his wife, Sharon, attended a free community seminar presented by Dr. Peter Janu, general surgeon with Affinity Medical Group who is currently ranked number four in the nation for performing the a procedure that cures GERD. Some patients are traveling to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton from as far as Ohio and Tennessee for this procedure.

Transoral incisionless fundoplication, or TIF, is the most advanced procedure for safely and effectively treating GERD. Using a device called EsophyX, the surgery is performed through the mouth, rather than through an abdominal incision. A completely incisionless procedure, TIF is performed under general anesthesia and reconstructs the body's natural physical anti-reflux barrier. Most patients can go home the next day and return to work within a few days.

"The very first night I was home, I went upstairs to go to sleep, laid down and waited to feel reflux, but there was nothing there," Rasper remembers. "I tried not to get too excited, because I was used to waking up in the middle of the night, but I woke up the next morning and thought – it's gone."

In fall 2014, Dr. Janu formed a Center of Excellence that brings Affinity Medical Group board-certified surgeons, gastroenterologists and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists together to improve the quality and quickness of care for patients who experience GERD and other reflux disorders. It is a unique collaboration of expertise blossoming into a "one-stop-shop" for patients.

Now, a year post-surgery, Rasper is living by a new mantra. As encouraged by Dr. Janu, he takes small bites, chews them well, swallows and does not eat too much at any given time. Seems basic, but when you live with a narrowed esophagus and severe reflux, you live by a different set of standards.

"The TIF procedure is not designed to fix the problem and then allow the patient to go crazy," Dr. Janu reassures. "It's designed to fix the mechanical problem and guide you to eating smarter."

Half-jokingly, Rasper calls himself Dr. Janu's poster child for the disorder, but he's just happy to have been gifted a new normal.

Published October 2014

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Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be You, my God, for having created me. - Saint Clare of Assisi