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Sebastian’s Hope For A Life-Changing Procedure

Sebastian lives in constant pain from hereditary pancreatitis

Sebastian hereditary pancreatitis

"Sebastian lives in constant pain from hereditary pancreatitis"

Imagine seeing your child or loved one in severe pain every day. This is the reality for Merle Weetra who watches her 17-year-old son Sebastian struggle with pain from hereditary pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a condition where inflammation of the pancreas takes place, causing severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. People with this type of chronic pancreatitis typically experience symptoms from a very young age and suffer the full burden of the disease from their teenage years all the way through adulthood.

Sebastian had his first attack at four years old and growing up in the rural community of Elliston, an eight-hour drive from Adelaide, he often had to be airlifted to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, sometimes spending up to 14 days per admission.

“Sebastian’s condition has affected and limited his life more than people realise. He deals with constant pain up to three times each week and he’s missed a lot of schooling, often starting his day at lunch time due to the severity of his pain,” Merle said.

“Although Sebastian knows how to manage his condition with regular pain killers and bed rest, it’s not sustainable and it affects his mental health as he constantly waits for his next attack. He’s unable to live life as a normal 17-year-old.”

Sebastian is currently in Year 12 and aspires to study a Bachelor of Game Design at Adelaide University. The only way to cure his pancreatitis is with a Pancreatectomy and Islet Auto Transplant (P-IAT) procedure.

Up to 60 per cent of people with hereditary pancreatitis will ultimately require P-IAT. This procedure removes the pancreas and reimplants the insulin producing islet cells, isolated from the removed pancreas, back into the patient’s liver enabling them to be pain free.

Sebastian is waiting to receive this operation while in his final year at Immanuel College, after receiving an Indigenous youth leadership scholarship through the Smith Family.

“The scholarship will ultimately help Sebastian set up his path to what he really wants to do for the rest of his life,” Merle said.

“This operation will give him the chance to live pain free for the first time in 13 years and it will actually enable him to reach his life goals.

“It’s so amazing this opportunity is available for Sebastian and hopefully in the future it’s available to everyone who suffers from hereditary pancreatitis.”

Sebastian is scheduled to have his procedure later this year. We look forward to keeping you updated on his progress.

You can help people like Sebastian life a normal life pain free by donating to Kidney, Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia, which supports this life-changing procedure in Adelaide.