At sixteen weeks gestation, a routine ultrasound discovered that our fourth son, Samuel, had a severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia. We were devastated. The perinatal specialist we saw in Charlotte told us the grim news. Samuel would most likely die at birth because his lungs would be unable to develop. The doctor gave us two options. We could either carry Samuel to term and be prepared for his death or we could have an abortion. We knew that an abortion would not be an option for us and that we would put our faith in God to get us through this, even if Samuel died at birth.
Our doctor in Charlotte mentioned that he had heard about a doctor in San Francisco who was performing a new surgery on babies like Samuel and that he would get more information for us. We left his office and began to pray for a miracle. Our doctor called us a few days later saying that he had contacted Dr. Harrison's office in San Francisco.
Within a few weeks we were on our way to San Francisco for an evaluation and preliminary screening. I had several tests run to determine if we would be candidates for the surgery and then we met with Dr. Harrison.
For the first time since we had heard about our son's diagnosis, he offered us some hope. He explained the surgery to us and we left to go home to make the hardest decision we had ever made. We knew we would have to leave the rest of our sons in North Carolina for several months and I just didn't know if I could do it but I kept thinking about the baby I was carrying and I knew we had to do whatever we could to give him some hope of surviving. So on April 1, 1996 we moved our boys, Timmy (six years old), Ryan (five years old) and Jacob (two years old) over to their grandparents who were wonderful enough to take care of our children for the entire time we were gone. With the tremendous support they and the rest of our family gave us along with a wonderful church family, we left for San Francisco.
On April 5, 1996 I had the fetal surgery and on April 17th, 1996 Samuel was born at thirty one and a
half weeks weighing three pounds and nine ounces and the most beautiful baby I think I had ever seen. He was a miracle from day one. He leaped over hurdles no one thought he would ever reach. Samuel had three more surgeries and recovered quickly from each one. He was taken off the respirator at almost three months and continued to improve from there. He was discharged on July 24, 1997 at three and a half months and we were reunited with our family in North Carolina.
Samuel is a happy, healthy boy. We know that this experience would have been a lot tougher if it wasn't for the friendships we developed in San Francisco and all the support we received from Dr. Harrison, Jody
Farrell, Maribeth Inturrisi, Chris Lent and the rest of the Fetal Treatment Center staff. These people were our family while we were away from our home and we will always be grateful to them. We thank the Lord for Dr. Harrison and for his willingness and determination to help our son survive.
When Kristen Amen and Tony Garcia learned that their baby would be born with a condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), at first the news was devastating.
Baby Sarah Elizabeth has a very successful recovery from an SCT which is removed while she is still a fetus.