Newborn travels to Virginia for Life-saving Operation Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 16 August 2012 00:00

Esophageal atresia is a congenital medical condition that causes the esophagus to end in a blind-ended pouch rather than connect to the stomach. It is caused by an abnormal embryological development of the esophagus. In simpler words, a child born with  esophageal etresia cannot eat and digest food because the esophagus is not connected the stomach. Esophageal atresia is suspected in an infant with excessive drooling and, in a newborn with drooling that is frequently accompanied by choking, coughing and sneezing. When fed, these infants swallow normally but begin to cough and struggle as the fluid returns through the nose and mouth. The infant may become cyanotic (turn bluish due to lack of oxygen) and, may stop breathing as the overflow of fluid from the blind pouch is sucked into the trachea (windpipe).

Fortunately for Leonzo, Aurora and baby Hannah, an organization called the World Pediatric Project has sent six children from Belize abroad before to seek treatment for the same condition. The World Pediatric Project heard of baby Hannah’s condition and moved quickly to schedule a life-saving operation at the Virginia College University Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. Hannah left for the United States on Monday, August 13th. She was accompanied by her mother and Dr. Cecilio Eck, pediatrician at the KHMH. Dr. Eck had to accompany the child since it is a twelve- hour journey to Virginia and Hannah can only be fed by using intravenous fluids.

Once in Virginia, Hannah will undergo what has become a routine surgery. Surgery to fix esophageal atresia is rarely an emergency. An incision is made on the side of the baby’s chest and the esophagus is stretched and connected to the stomach or a replacement to the defected esophagus is inserted. The esophagus is easily sewn together. Following surgery, the baby may be hospitalized for a variable length of time. After surgery, Hannah is expected to live a normal life.

The surgery and care for baby Hannah is free of cost to the family. They only had to get visas and come up with the plane tickets.