James Hoyne, age 24, was born with an incomplete esophagus (tracheoesophageal fistula). This not only affected his digestion, but also brought on respiratory problems. Before he left the NICU, the doctors inserted the MIC-KEY* Low-Profile Gastrostomy Feeding Tube. At the same time, they performed a fundoplication to twist his esophagus at the base and restrict his severe reflux. In 1997, James was able to remove the feeding tube for six years and provide his body with nutrients by mouth. By the time he was 10 years old in 2003, he weighed only 28 pounds, but as James put it, “Thanks to the MIC-KEY*, I probably wouldn’t have been that big, or even alive, without it.”

The same year, James’ family moved from New York to Florida as he was susceptible to catching pneumonia and warmer weather would be easier on his system. His doctor then performed another fundoplication and again recommended the MIC-KEY* G Tube to help him put on more weight. He and his parents liked that the low-profile tube was easy to maintain and would allow him to stay mobile and active, as well as gain the nutrients a growing boy needed. He has not removed the MIC-KEY* since.

A Thriving Young Boy

The MIC-KEY*’s low-profile design didn’t restrict James’ activities in grade school and high school. In fact, it enabled him to stay in mainstream classes and graduate. He played baseball, participated in the Soap Box Derby and did well in fencing. During those years, from 2009 – 2015, James’ eating habits improved. He was able to eat many foods by mouth. Despite having to deal with further complications and surgeries for his stomach, his physicians were pleased with his progress. “When I was younger,” James said, “I was afraid about how people might accept me. As got older, I overcame my self-consciousness. Many days I don’t realize I have a feeding tube.”

Temporary Setback

In 2015, James fell ill with esophageal ulcers and other stomach conditions, which resulted in extreme acid reflux. This forced him to eat only rice and a nutritional supplementary drink. He lost weight over the past two years and is down to 92 pounds on his 5’3″ frame. As a result, he needed feedings that could go lower than the stomach into the small bowel so he could keep food down. Prior to June 9, 2017, James was using only the MIC-KEY* G tube. His doctor replaced the MIC-KEY* G tube with the MIC-KEY* GJ tube, which has both a J port and a G-Tube port in one tube. This allows James to get the nutrition he needs. Unlike many other feeding systems, the MIC-KEY* can adapt to varying conditions. The goal is for James to eat more by mouth and get to 100 pounds, at which time his doctor will be able to remove the GJ-Tube.

On a Mission to Educate Others

James is an inspiration for people who use feeding tubes or who face health challenges at a young age. He did, and will continue to, forge on with his life and stay as active as possible, both physically and mentally. James plans to finish college and become a special education teacher, as well as continue his advocacy work for people with disabilities. He also intends to run for the local board of education in his current hometown of Enfield, Connecticut.

James said, “I have never let my feeding tube stop me from living my life. My ability is greater than my disability. I enjoy passing along this message to others and educating people on the need for and benefits of a feeding tube, and the MIC-KEY* in particular.”