Always on the Go, 81 Year-Old Thankful Medication Helped Her Wean Off Parenteral Nutrition


“Independent” and “living” mean a lot to Fran Short, who packs activity into every waking minute at the independent living facility where she lives.

Fran isn’t slowed down by the fact that she only has about 2-1/2 feet of small intestine left (vs. the typical 22 feet). While she used to receive home parenteral nutrition (HPN) from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily (“I had to be home and hooked up, it was such an aggravation”), daily injections of Gattex® helped her get enough nutrients orally and wean off HPN.

Gattex helps patients with short bowel syndrome (SBS) absorb nutrients better. While it reduces many patients’ dependence on HPN, it helps some, such as Fran, come off of HPN entirely.

“Now I feel good and can go wherever I want,” said Fran, 81, of Chesterfield, Mo. “I’m on every committee, group and board you can imagine.” She’s on the cooking committee, is a bell ringer and waters all of the plants in the facility. She uses the facility’s putting green and plays cards. “I’ve got a group of special girlfriends and every Thursday we go to a different restaurant and to the theater or casino.”

Fran’s gastrointestinal troubles began in 2011 when, while on the golf course in Florida with her husband, she began having severe abdominal pain. Much of her small intestine had to be surgically removed due to a small bowel obstruction, leaving her with SBS. Although she was able to eat, she was placed on HPN because her body couldn’t absorb enough nutrients. HPN was part of her daily routine until 10 months ago, when her doctor prescribed Gattex.

Fran continues her daily injections of Gattex and receives hydration through a port in her chest. Her Option Care nurse visits her weekly to be sure she’s doing well and to check her vitals and blood.

In addition to the freedom Gattex gives her, she’s enjoying eating again. “On HPN I ate, but only little bits because I wasn’t hungry,” she said. “It’s nice to be hungry and to want to eat.”

Although Fran’s husband died of an accident shortly after they moved to the facility, she looks forward to visits from her four children, eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. As a “full-blooded Italian,” she loves to cook big meals for her family, typically with pasta as the centerpiece, from lasagna to pasta fagioli.

Her Option Care registered dietitian, Cari Bailey-Smith, RD, notes Fran’s weaknesses are sweets and rich foods, but says Fran is careful not to overdo the desserts too often because they cause gastrointestinal issues that interfere with absorbing nutrients.

“Gattex has given her freedom and she’s living life like she should be,” she said. “It allows her to maintain the busyness she really enjoys.”