NEW HYDE PARK, NY – One month to the day after a life-saving surgery to repair a rare congenital defect, Owen Brent and his grateful parents, Margaret and Michael Brent of Levittown, N.Y., returned Thursday to Cohen Children’s Medical Center to thank the doctors who saved his life.
Last month, the Brents awoke to discover that their normally happy three-month-old son was crying uncontrollably.
“We could see that he couldn’t breathe and he was miserable, just lethargic,” his mother said. “I followed my instincts and we rushed to the emergency department.”
The baby was suffering from a congenital diaphragmatic hernia with incarcerated intestine. His intestine had become stuck in the chest and needed to be dislodged because the tissue was beginning to die.
During a press conference held at the hospital Thursday, Marie Esperanza, MD, a pediatric intensive care physician and Richard Glick, MD, a pediatric surgeon, explained the dramatic scene that unfolded in the hospital’s emergency room when the family arrived.
“His blood pressure was unstable and he had trouble breathing,” said Dr. Esperanza. “So we immediately treated Owen with a breathing tube and brought him to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for further care. In the PICU, he was also given medications to help stabilize his blood pressure and placed on a ventilator to assist his breathing. We then ordered X-rays, and when we had the result, we immediately brought in Dr. Glick from surgery to take over.”
According to Dr. Glick, Owen had a condition so rare that surgeons see it in children after birth only once or twice in their careers.
“What we saw was a hole in the diaphragm muscle with the intestine going up into the left chest,” said Dr. Glick. “Usually, this is discovered in utero, but what makes Owen’s case so rare is that we didn’t learn of his condition until he was three months old.”
Dr. Glick and the surgical team had to act quickly.
“Every minute counted to keep the organ alive,” said. Dr. Glick. “The surgery took about an hour and a half. First we had to warm up the intestine to make sure the blood supply wasn’t compromised. When that was done, we were able to replace it.”
Next, the surgeons used special sutures to repair the bowel. Dr. Glick brought Owen back to the OR two days later to check that the bowel was thriving. It was healthy and the second surgery was completed. Owen returned home after a three-week stay in the hospital.
His grateful parents report that Owen is now a perfectly healthy baby.
“Owen is doing everything that he should be doing,” his proud mother reported. “He eats very well, and he’s now trying to roll over. One day, we’ll tell him about this and what a miracle he is for us.”
Owen’s parents revealed that they’ve given him his own email address and that they’ve already written him a long letter describing his very eventful first four months of life.
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