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After 52 surgeries, Kaitlyn O’Brien is on a mission to give back to the place she calls her second home

She’s had almost every type of ostomy that anyone could ever need.
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Immediately after Kaitlyn O’Brien was born, she needed lifesaving treatment and was rushed to The Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids. To put it frankly, “I was born without a butthole,” she said. That fact made it impossible for Kaitlyn's body to eliminate waste, so she spent the first few years fighting for her life.

When she grew older there were more complications, her bladder and kidney function worsened, and her body rejected numerous medications. Kaitlyn said, “There were many moments throughout my journey that left my parents extremely scared. The doctors said I was failing to thrive and were not optimistic about my survival."

Her eventual diagnosis was a rare disease called VACTERL Association. The term VACTERL is an acronym with each letter representing a birth defect. “It was a blessing because it eliminated the unknown and was a step in the direction to wellness. VACTERL Syndrome has no cure, but I will get stronger. It’s only through the unwavering support of my family, friends, and my care team at SickKids that I am who I am today,” she said.

One of her biggest fans is travel photographer, Karam in the World. In this video, he shares a glimpse of Kaitlyn’s world and her incredible outlook on life. Karam says, “Kaitlyn is one of the most positive people I know. She is an inspiration to many, including myself, and she’s only 22 years old!”

Kaitlyn has had pretty much every type of ostomy that anyone could ever need. She joined Uncover Ostomy as a contributor in October 2016 to share stories of her journey. “52 surgeries & 6 ostomies. That’s me,” she wrote on their blog.

When she turned 12, Kaitlyn established a fund in her name at SickKids, a place she calls her second home. The goal was to have her name engraved on the donor wall in the hospital atrium by the time she was 18 — a goal she achieved by raising over $50,000. If you’d like to support Kaitlyn’s mission, please visit The K.O. Fund.