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Meet CDH Survivor Brooke and Her Parents 

The Huson Family

The Huson Family

A screaming baby - when Christina and Brad Huson met their daughter Brooke for the first time this was the best sound they had ever heard.

When Christina was only a few weeks into her pregnancy, they found out that there was a problem. Their tiny baby was suffering from a birth defect known as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH).

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) happens when the fetus does not have a diaphragm, or there is a hole in the diaphragm. Because of this hole, or lack of a diaphragm, the contents of the abdomen, including the stomach, intestines, liver and spleen, can go into the chest preventing the normal development of the lungs. After birth the baby will have difficulty breathing if the lungs are not developed enough.

“We were so scared and didn’t know what to do,” explains Christina. “We heard about the SSM Health St. Louis Fetal Care Institute from our ob/gyn and made the call.”

The next few months were full of doctor and hospital visits as baby Brooke’s development was monitored. “It seemed like I was in the hospital all of the time. We had tests and ultrasounds every week, along with our normal doctor visits. The hospital was my second home the last two months of the pregnancy,” recalls Christina.

On June 1, 2010 at 9:34 a.m. a 7 lb. 14 oz. Brooke entered the world via a c-section delivery. “Her delivery was so scary for me because we weren’t sure if she was going to make it. Much to my surprise she came out screaming,” she explains. “Because of her poor lung development we were not expecting this.”

As soon as Brooke was born, doctors began to work with her to make sure she could breathe and rest easily, and so they could do the necessary tests to assess her condition. After about two hours she was transferred to the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). “The transport team was wonderful. They even gave me the chance to hold Brooke for a few minutes since I would need to be away from her at another hospital for three days,” says Christina.

When Brooke was only four days old, the pediatric surgeons at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon performed her CDH repair surgery. Using a telescopic instrument that allows for a faster recovery, and less scaring, surgeons made three, quarter-inch incisions to enter Brooke’s abdomen. During the surgery they were able to place her organs in the correct position and repair the hole in her diaphragm.

“I have never been so scared in my life, but before I knew it, about 30 minutes after she entered surgery, Brooke was back in the NICU resting peacefully,” she says. “Thanks to the team at Cardinal Glennon the surgery was a success!”

Over the next few days, Brooke’s condition continued to improve. “We slowly saw her coming off the ventilators, drinking a bottle and gaining weight. She was becoming a normal infant,” she explains. “Brooke was born, transferred, had surgery and was home in eight days, it was truly a miracle!”

“After being there I know how scary a birth defect diagnosis can be, not knowing what is to come. It is easier said than done, but staying positive and remembering that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle is what got us through this tough time,” she says.

“She is our miracle baby and I couldn’t imagine life without her. She makes every day better, and always puts a smile on our faces,” she says.

Learn more about our Collaborative CDH Care Program here.

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