Viral Facebook post helps mom find formula for tube-fed son

Claire Rowan didn’t know what to do when the FDA recalled a baby formula essential for feeding her 16-year-old son who eats by tube.

VIENNA, Va. — A Virginia mother whose son relies on a recalled baby formula to eat through a feeding tube said the outreach of support she’s found through social media has restored her faith in humanity.

On Thursday, the FDA announced a major recall of three infant formulas manufactured at Abbott Nutrition in Sturgis, Mich. — Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. DC Health issued a statement Saturday warning parents not to use the recalled formulas due to possible bacterial contamination.

This recall has left parents around the country, including in the DMV area, scrambling to find a replacement. One such mother is Claire Rowan of Virginia.

Rowan found herself unsure about how to feed her 16-year-old whose medical condition means the use of this formula is essential. Her son generally eats EleCare Jr, a hypoallergenic formula that provides nutrition to children with protein allergies.

“He has both Crohn’s disease, and something called eosinophilic, esophagitis and gastroenteritis, and so he just basically has food allergies to almost everything,” Rowan said of her son Will in an interview with WUSA9. “He doesn’t eat anything by mouth, except he gets to try one food every eight weeks, to see if his body can tolerate it.”

Complicating the matter, days ago, the Rowan family received their normal delivery of 60 cans of EleCare Jr formula – all of which is unusable because of the recall.

Desperate for help, Rowan took to social media, wondering what options she had since the Abbot formula is generally the only thing her son Will is able to stomach.

“Long shot but I am desperate,” she wrote on Facebook. “As of now, [my tube fed son] has no food. None. … We will drive anywhere… I am working to try to get new cases but everyone in America is too. Our choices are no food or likely anaphylaxis so we are putting this out to our community for any help we can get.”

Rowan’s post was shared hundreds of times on Facebook, and eventually made its way to Reddit.

With the help of a friend, Rowan found community members in Stafford and Riding who had usable, safe formula for her son Will. 

“We ended up yesterday with four and a half cans, which is going to get us through a couple of days until the doctor lets us know what our plan B is,” Rowan said.

Now, Rowan said she’s not only getting help for her son but other children too. All in hopes of making sure no child goes hungry. She was able to connect with an Alexandria mother and provide her six safe cans of formula. 

A simple post, brought moms together, and is proving that when needed, the community just wants to see kids getting what they need.

“I can’t say thank you enough to all these different people because it’s been pretty amazing,” Rowan said.

RELATED: FDA: Do not use recalled infant formulas tied to infections

DC Health posted a list of alternative formulas to the recalled formulas on its website. Unused cans of recalled formula can be returned to the store where it was purchased, otherwise people can contact Sililac online or by calling 1-800-986-8540. 

RELATED: Infant formula recalled for possible health risks

The FDA advises people throw away the following formulas — Similac Advance, Similac Sensitive, Similac Total Comfort, Similac for Spit Up, Alimentum, EleCare Infant and EleCare Jr. powdered formula — if: 

  • 22 through 37 are the first two digits of the code;
  •  K8, SH or Z2 is in the code; or if  
  •  4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later is the expiration date.

Formulas that do not contain all three of the issues above are safe to use, according to health officials.

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