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Crohn's & Colitis
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Personal Story

Zaun Bhana tells of his experience with Infliximab and colitis

Zaun Bhana tells his story

My name is Zaun Bhana. I am 30 years old, married to my lovely wife Michelle and we have an 18 month old baby boy named Makan. I own an IT business called LEAP Consulting with a business partner that employs four staff and I have just bought my first house.

I am also living with ulcerative colitis.

I was first diagnosed with UC back in June 2001 after going to a GP because of the symptoms. He referred me to a gastroenterologist who after a colonoscopy and some blood tests soon confirmed I had active colitis. At the time it was not a condition I had heard anything about and I didn’t know anyone who had it. To me it seemed like an inconvenience rather than a disease and with some Salazopyrin medication I was soon back to normal and on my way to relocate from Darwin to Perth in September 2001.

Within a month my wife and I had both started new jobs in Perth and we were saving for our wedding which was scheduled for November 2002. My UC was not flaring and other than the medication I had to take daily it was not of any real concern.

This all changed in April 2002. I started to exhibit the same symptoms as when I was first diagnosed, which was stomach cramping, excessive bowel motions, weight loss and then bloody diarrhoea. I was placed on a high dosage of Prednisolone, which failed to alleviate the symptoms and by the start of May 2002 I was in hospital.

After another colonoscopy and large amounts of Hydrocortisone via IV I was starting to stabilise. I had a bedside visit with a colorectal surgeon to discuss the potential of removing the portion of my infected bowel should I elect to go down that route. I finally made it out of hospital at the beginning of June 2002 with an expectation that the worst was behind me.

With our wedding still five months away we kept our bookings as the majority of our guests and family were flying in from the Northern Territory and interstate and they had already paid for their flights.

Within a couple of weeks however, I was back in hospital. For a month I tried various doses and medications to reduce my inflammation and get my condition under control. By late July with all options exhausted and me not willing to entertain surgery, I was submitted for a trial of Infliximab at Fremantle Public Hospital.

By this time I had exhausted all our savings, had used up what little sick leave and holiday leave I had and even with Michelle’s salary we were still having to rely on my parents for financial support to survive.

My last roll of the dice was thrown and I received the Infliximab dose. The fork in the road for my life was waiting for the results of this drug along with the prayers and hopes of my family. Almost like a bolt of lightning my system began responding and within days I was on the mend. Infliximab had returned my system to normal. Within two weeks I17 was back at home with my wife planning our wedding day (without all the extras) and on the 19th of August 2002 I returned to work.

On November 9th 2002 we were finally married.

Infliximab is not just about helping people with Crohn’s and colitis. It is about helping their family, their friends and the community. The ripple effects from these conditions are not isolated to a small group of people. Those people afflicted impact their family, their workplace, the health system and the community in general.

For me, the option to start a business, employ staff, have a child and even buy a house may not have occurred if I had undergone surgery instead of having access to Infliximab. The long term costs of surgeries, recovery, medication and patient support all far outweigh the short term costs of making Infliximab available through the PBS not to mention the lost revenue from not having a productive member of the community actively contributing.

Without the opportunity the Infliximab medication gave me I doubt I would be where I am today.

Zaun Bhana TG

Posted on: April 17 2018

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My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with UC in July 2016 and after 4 flare ups within 12 months and trying different medications, she was prescribed infliximab. This has been the miracle medication for her and am so thankful that she has been able to return to a "relatively normal life", enjoying school and her passion for sports again (bar 8 weekly visits to PMH for inflixmab infusions, routine colonoscopies and mezzaline daily). I had very little knowledge of UC and autoimmunie disease for that matter; and was shellshocked at how debilitating it can be. We are so grateful to have a wonderful gastro and medical team supporting my daughter and of course the impact that inflixmab has had; however know it is still early days and don't want to take anything for granted.

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