WVU to host state’s first CCFA support group

Meeting for Crohn’s sufferers to be held April 30

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginians living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will now be able to meet and share information with other people in the state who have the same conditions.

The West Virginia University Health Sciences Center will host the state’s first Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) support group at 6:30 p.m. on April 30 in the John E. Jones Conference Center.

Founded in 1967, the CCFA is a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to finding a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The group estimates that 1.4 million Americans are affected by these conditions. The CCFA has more than 40 staffed and volunteer chapters and affiliates nationwide. The Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Chapter is based in Pittsburgh.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis fall into the category of irritable bowel diseases (IBD) that affect the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the rectum, explains Uma Sundaram, M.D., chief of the digestive diseases section in the WVU School of Medicine. They are lifelong conditions for which there is no known cure. Most people who have these diseases are diagnosed in their early 20s.

“These are chronic problems that are frequently worsening, so they not only affect the individual but often affect their families as well,” Dr. Sundaram said.

The number of patients with IBD in West Virginia is enormous, Sundaram said. “Is it what we eat? Is it what we drink? We don’t know.”

Sundaram encourages anyone unsure whether to attend the support group meeting to take the time to attend once. If all they do is sit and listen and take the material provided, that is plenty, he said.

The start of the support group is the first of a series of CCFA events to be held in West Virginia this year.

On July 11, Sundaram will be the featured speaker at a National Education Program to be held at the WVU Health Sciences Center’s Fukushima Auditorium. He will give a presentation titled “Understanding Inflammatory Bowel Disease: What Every Patient Needs to Know.” The talk is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

Children ages 7 to 16 who have IBD are invited to attend Camp Oasis Aug. 21 to 25 at Camp Tall Timbers in High View. The goal of the camp is to give kids a chance to focus on what they can do instead of what they can’t do because of their disease.

For more information on the support group or registering for the lecture or camp, call Jennifer Simpson, education and support manager for the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Chapter of the CCFA, toll-free at 1-877-823-8272.

For information on the CCFA see www.ccfa.org.

For information on the Section of Digestive Diseases see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/medicine/digestiveDiseases/.



For more information:
Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 04-29-09

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