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Photo taken by Coloplast

Kevin Taziar has been fighting fires for close to thirty years in his hometown of Milton, Ontario. He’s also been fighting a debilitating digestive disease, ulcerative colitis, for nearly 20 years. After many medications, multiple bathroom visits and years of pain and discomfort, Kevin wanted to “get his life back in order.”

Kevin was ready to undergo a total colectomy, a surgery that removes the colon and connects the intestine to the abdominal wall. This allows waste to leave the body through the abdomen into an external pouch called an ostomy.

Although he was referred to another hospital for his surgery, Kevin had done his own research and came across the internationally renowned Zane Cohen Centre for Digestive Diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital, which just recently celebrated its ten year anniversary.

Photo taken by Coloplast

“Everything pointed to Mount Sinai as the best place for this type of surgery,” said Kevin.

The Zane Cohen Centre is an international leader in the understanding and treatment of digestive diseases, including cancers and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The Centre brings together surgeons, physicians, geneticists, psychologists, pathologists and researchers, among others who collaborate to provide the very best care for patients. It is the largest Centre of its kind in Canada, seeing over 10,000 patients every year.

On December 1, 2017, Kevin arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital and started on the journey to take back his life. He underwent an 11-hour total colectomy surgery conducted by Dr. Robert Gryfe and Dr. Anthony DeBuck, which used a new, innovative, minimally-invasive surgical approach that left Kevin with virtually no scars after removing his entire colon and rectum. This was followed by a two-week post-surgery recovery stay at Mount Sinai.

“I received great care through each step of my journey at Mount Sinai,” said Kevin. “My enterostomal therapy nurse, Julie Tjan Thomas was a great help while I was in hospital, as well as Brenda O’Connor from the Zane Cohen Centre who helped me prepare for the surgery. I had frequent visits from Dr. Gryfe and the nutritionist staff were very accommodating.”

Flash forward to the beginning of May 2018, Kevin is now back to work as a firefighter. He does not have to constantly worry about needing to use the washroom and can live his life on his terms. Thanks to an IBD support network, he can find comfort through others who have undergone similar surgeries and learn more about his ostomy from experts, while enjoying the pleasures of life: his career and family. Kevin is paying it forward by being a pre-operation “surgical buddy” for others by providing emotional support and discussing his own experience.

“I have no regrets about having my surgery,” says Kevin. “Life is good.”