Patients of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center needing an ostomy bag will now receive some extra care, due in part to Jessica and Eric Harder of Marion, Ohio.

As someone who has battled irritable bowel disease for more than 18 years, Jessica was treated at many hospitals, by many doctors. Her disease eventually brought her to Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, where a temporary ostomy saved her life after medications had failed to keep her in remission. They didn’t just care for me physically, but care about my emotional well-being as well,” shares Jessica.

Their Story

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Ostomy is the surgical creation of an opening from an internal structure within the body to the outside of the body that can be temporary or permanent.

It is estimated that up to 400 patients annually will require a surgery at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center that will result in the patient needing a gastrointestinal ostomy bag. The emotional burden of dealing with an ostomy can be devastating, as patients face incredible changes in body image, self-esteem, sexuality and quality of life. Often patients express fear, concern, worry and embarrassment regarding their ostomies, but may not have adequate support to handle these feelings.  

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Wanting to recognize the work of her care team and empower other patients like her, Jessica and her husband, Eric, launched the Gastrointestinal (GI) Ostomy Bag Program at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

This fundraising endeavor’s goal is to eliminate the unpleasantness of the patient having to see their own body’s output. With the help of Ohio State volunteers, Jessica and Eric will be crafting handmade ostomy bag covers to give to patients after surgery to help give them a sense of support and let them know they are not alone with their feelings.

By raising $25,000 through an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center fundraising page, Jessica estimates they will be able to provide enough bag covers to patients for the next 15 years. “We hope the bag covers remind patients to accept and love themselves no matter what they have and what they are missing. We hope this program is a gateway for the emotional healing to begin and to allow patients to take emotional control over their new identity with an ostomy,” says Jessica.

“In a perfect world, there would be no need to have a GI ostomy bag. Until then, let’s help those needing them live with them beautifully” Jessica says.

Please consider supporting the GI Ostomy Bag Program.

Learn more about creating a personal fundraising page at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. 

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