Rebecca Aguirre's Story

rebecca Aguirre and Family

Rebecca Aguirre with her children Bayleigh and Colin

After severe asthma caused Rebecca Aguirre’s son, Colin, 11, to be hospitalized three times, she sought help from the experts at National Jewish Health. 

“When he was diagnosed, I didn’t feel like there was anyone who could tell me about it,” she recalls. “After National Jewish Health, his asthma is stable and I felt more informed.”

A few years later, when Rebecca had a nagging cough, she remembered from her experience with Colin that it might be a sign of asthma. She was referred to a pulmonologist, but she felt like she was being left in the dark about her condition.

“The doctor said, ‘You just have asthma,’” Rebecca says. “That wasn’t good enough for me. When you go from being healthy to finding out that you need to take daily medication, you want the facts.”

Rebecca asked to be seen at National Jewish Health. “I saw the way they cared for my son, and I wanted the same for myself.”

After her first appointment with pulmonologist Anthony N. Gerber, MD, PhD, she knew she was in the right place.

“I was able to talk to Dr. Gerber about how I was feeling, like why did I feel short of breath in the winter but couldn’t push air out in the summer? He was able to explain what was happening and identify the things that trigger my symptoms.”

Dr. Gerber thought that Rebecca may have developed asthma from an allergy to the molds in the cattails in her yard. He collaborated with immunologist Tho Q. Truong, MD, to treat both Rebecca’s asthma and allergies.

As Rebecca was getting her asthma under control, her 13-year-old daughter, Bayleigh, had a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Terrified, Rebecca rushed Bayleigh to the emergency room. “The doctors told me that she had a severe reaction to eating mangos. But, I felt like they didn’t want to take the time to explain what that meant and what I should do.” says Rebecca. “I knew that National Jewish Health would spend time with us and give me definitive answers.”

Bayleigh was seen by Kirstin D. Carel, MD, who specializes in pediatric allergy and immunology. Bayleigh was given both a scratch test and a food challenge, and Dr. Carel determined that she is allergic to mangos, tree nuts, and onions.

The food challenge is used worldwide as the gold standard in food-allergy testing, and the double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge, most often used in research, was first introduced at National Jewish Health.

Bayleigh also has asthma, and, at the time, it was not well controlled. “Her asthma has changed dramatically for the better!” says Rebecca. “Before seeing Dr. Carel, Bayleigh’s physical life was very limited due to her asthma. Even climbing the stairs was a struggle for her, and she couldn’t swim or ride her bike. Now, Bayleigh is able to swim and go on long bike rides with no problem.”

Today, Rebecca and her children have peace of mind thanks to the care they received at National Jewish Health.

“National Jewish Health has been a positive experience for my family. The doctors and technology there are awesome,” says Rebecca. “I recommend National Jewish Health to all of my friends and family.”