Research

Austin’s Cupcake Fund

A Child’s Wish for a Cure Helps Drive Research and Funding

Austin’s Cupcake Fund

Austin Rath of Butler, Pa., dreams of one day being able to eat cupcakes, just like any other child. Right now he can’t, because he suffers from short bowel syndrome, a condition resulting from dysfunction of his intestines due to Hirschsprung’s disease, a disorder in which the bowel doesn't develop properly and lacks the proper nerves for motility to occur. As a consequence, he receives 16 to 18 hours of intravenous nutrition every day. He can’t eat anything with sugar.

At the age of five, Austin emailed a video Christmas wish to David Hackam, MD, PhD, a pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and researcher focused on intestinal issues. In the video, Austin is seated in front of his family Christmas tree surrounded by presents and says, “My biggest wish ever is to get a new tummy. Work very hard.” Moved, Dr. Hackam replied in an email back to the family, “I will not rest until I succeed in generating a new tummy for Austin and for people just like him.”

Artifiical intestine Microscopic view of artificial intestine tissue.

On his sixth birthday, the youngster told his parents that instead of receiving gifts he wanted to raise money for Dr. Hackam’s research. As a result, Austin’s Cupcake Fund was created, reflecting Austin’s wish that he’ll someday be able to eat “lots and lots of cupcakes.” Through word-of-mouth, media coverage, and a special website on Facebook the fund has already raised in excess of $100,000.

Austin’s Cupcake Fund helped to inspire the formation of the Center for Pediatric Surgical, Translational, and Regenerative Medicine, which is led by Dr. Hackam and is helping to accelerate development of solutions to the kind of debilitating and life-threatening conditions faced by Austin.

Austin’s Cupcake Fund continues to this day as one of a number of ways to support the cause.

Austin's Wish for Dr. Hackam

 

 

Last Update
July 12, 2013
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Last Update
July 12, 2013
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