Diverticulitis Surgery: A UVA Student’s Stomach Pain Turns Into an Emergency

Zach Harker was finishing up schoolwork on a Friday night and preparing to drive home to celebrate his mother’s birthday that weekend. At some point during the Spanish movie he was watching, Harker started feeling pain in his stomach. He called his parents telling them he was going to try to sleep off the stomachache. He planned to drive home first thing the next morning.

His plans changed again when the stomach pain worsened throughout the night. He found himself in UVA Health System’s Emergency Department.

“It’s pretty normal for a student to go to student health,” Christopher Holstege, MD, Director of Emergency Medicine says. “But when a student goes into the Emergency Department that starts to raise bells for others.” Which is why Harker’s parents made the trip to Charlottesville after being notified of their son’s location.

Diverticulitis Surgery

He underwent emergency diverticulitis surgery, a condition that occurs when the walls of the large intestine become inflamed. He recovered, and despite the challenge of attending college with a colostomy bag, he retains a determined mindset.

Watch Zach’s story.

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