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Crohn’s disease on the rise; nearly fatal for area teen

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BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The coronavirus has been the talk of the medical field for almost two years now. However, another disease has increased in the past few decades.

“Headache, back was in pain, couldn’t eat, couldn’t stay awake and when I stood up, I couldn’t see,” said Bobby Lucarell, a high school senior from Brookfield.

Lucarell was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease three years ago and it has been a battle since then. In February, doctors said his intestine was nearly swollen shut and in August, a germ got into his bloodstream, giving him the West Nile virus. He was in the Cleveland Clinic ICU for 10 days.

“A week later, I got surgery. Where my large and small intestine meet, they removed it and reattached it. Ever since, I’ve been great,” Lucarell said.

The disease really impacted Lucarell’s life. A golfer at Brookfield High School, he only played five tournaments of his senior season.

“Right in the middle of it, that’s when I had to go to the ICU. It was taken away right then and there,” Lucarell said.

His case is as severe as they come.

Studies estimate the rate in North America for children ages 10-19 with Crohn’s disease to be approximately 3.5 cases per 100,000 population. It continues to grow.

“We don’t consider Crohn’s disease curable. We consider it to be a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease,” said Dr. Meredythe McNally, M.D., a gastroenterologist with Steward Medical Group.

Dr. McNally works with people who have Crohn’s disease. She says symptoms include abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue, all of which Lucarell experienced. She also says the disease can affect anyone, but it is manageable.

“Our goals in treatment are to induce remission and then to maintain remission so that these patients can go on and live their lives like they don’t have Crohn’s disease,” Dr. McNally said.

In Lucarell’s troubles, he had multiple sources of inspiration, including his family and his golf coach, Scott Bradley.

He also loves to cook. As the grill chef at the Stoneyard in Niles, he has his own burger of the month.

Lucarell encourages others with the disease to keep going.

“Just live your life normally. Be a normal person even though you have this disease,” he said.

Lucarell hopes to attend Youngstown State next year and then go to culinary school to start his own restaurant.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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