Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia: Braden's Story
For Braden’s family, the journey from despair to hope began with a 2,000-mile plane ride.
Lauren, a TV anchor in Salinas, California, received terrible news at an ultrasound midway through pregnancy. The scan showed that her developing baby had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). A large hole in his diaphragm (the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest) was allowing abdominal organs to migrate into the chest and prevent Braden’s lungs from developing normally.
Lauren and her husband, Kevin, were devastated. They sought treatment at a California hospital with some experience in treating CDH but were offered little hope. Online research led them to Johns Hospital All Children’s Hospital and its CDH team, led by pediatric surgeon David Kays, M.D.
The couple moved to Florida to prepare for Braden’s birth and subsequent surgery to repair the CDH. Immediately after delivery, Braden was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy to keep enough oxygen circulating throughout his body. Six days later, he underwent a five-hour surgery to correct the CDH to close the hole in the diaphragm and place Braden’s organs in the correct position. Day 19 brought abundant joy when Braden’s parents were able to hold him for the first time.
Braden made steady progress thanks to the team of physicians, nurses, lactation specialists, physical therapists and speech therapists who specialize in CDH. “The nurses spoil him rotten,” Lauren says. She and Kevin also found their spirits lifted each time a therapy dog visits the unit.
In addition to meeting all of his medical benchmarks, Braden is on track with baby milestones such as smiling and reaching for toys. He recently was discharged.
“We can’t say enough about our time at Johns Hopkins All Children’s,” Lauren says. “They’ve exceeded every expectation with the care and beyond, and they treat babies as their own.”