Fetal Intervention Corrected My Daughter's Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) Before Birth
Every parent hopes and prays for news that their unborn baby is healthy, but what do you do when you’re faced with a daunting diagnosis, such as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia? CDH is a condition in which the diaphragm does not properly develop, causing the abdominal organs to migrate into the chest cavity, preventing lung growth. We faced this diagnosis not only once, but twice. As many of you already know, we lost our precious baby boy, Maddox, on April 11, 2011. When we discovered I was pregnant again, we learned that we were faced with the same situation. We immediately went to the Fetal Center at Texas Children’s Hospital. So, the answer to my question is simple: you fight for your baby’s life and never stop — and that’s what we did. Please read on for a glimpse into my family’s journey at Texas Children’s Hospital and our fight to save our girl, Milan. At our 17-week check up, we could not wait to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. Like any mom-to-be, I was eager to hear the comforting news that our baby was healthy. As the nurse began the ultrasound scan, I watched the screen and tears began to run down my cheeks. After my many experiences with ultrasounds, I know how things should look. I couldn’t believe we were going through this nightmare again. Our baby, whom we found out was a precious girl, had her stomach and abdominal organs in her chest. She also had CDH. Words can’t express the hurt we felt. I knew her prognosis would be the same as my son if we didn’t begin any intervention methods. We immediately resolved that we would get only the best care for our daughter — and we knew that meant taking her to the Fetal Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. By the following Monday we were meeting with Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye.
We were approved for the Fetal Endoscopic Tracheal Occlusion (FETO) and were so relieved to hear there was hope for our daughter! Although I was the first patient to receive this particular intervention here, I was comforted to know that the team had previous experience and expertise in this method. FETO is a technique to help the lungs grow before birth. This tracheal occlusion is done using an inflatable (and detachable) balloon that is left inside the trachea of the baby. By blocking the trachea, fluid accumulates in the lungs and makes them grow larger. The balloon is later removed prior to birth. The FETO surgery was a success thanks to the skillful team at the Fetal Center, including Dr. Michael Belfort, Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, Dr. Rodrigo Ruano and many others. On April 18 our beautiful daughter, Milan, was born at 35 weeks and 4 days. Several days after birth, Milan's diaphragm repair-surgery went smoothly. Milan has spent the first few months of her life in the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital but the team at the Fetal Center and the entire staff has made it feel like a second home. I’m deeply grateful for the FETO intervention, as it saved my baby girl's life. She continues make progress every single day and, every day we get closer to bringing her home.
Children are an inheritance and every day Milan reminds us of this. Words cannot accurately express how proud we are of our strong baby girl and how much we love her. She is nothing short of a blessing and it's a privilege to have her in our life. We are forever grateful for the entire medical team for their skill, expertise and loving care for our daughter.