CINCINNATI, OH (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Most babies have less than a 50 percent chance of surviving a condition that's diagnosed before they're even born. But delaying necessary surgery to treat the problem is greatly improving those odds.
Robby Dumford is on the move now but his mom, Barbie, says the tenacious toddler almost didn't make it out of her womb alive.
"It was a really hard time," Barbie Dumford told Ivanhoe.
Robby had congenital diaphragmatic hernia. It's a hole in the diaphragm that causes the organs to crowd up into the chest, so the lungs can't develop. It was one of the worst cases doctors had seen. Robby was given just a 20 percent chance of survival, and his mom had to decide whether to terminate the pregnancy.
"I remember just praying the whole time down at the hospital you know, please give us a sign," Barbie said.
The sign she believes, were the ultrasounds, where it looks like Robby is smiling and giving the thumbs up.
"Right then and there I knew that we were going to fight," Barbie said.
The fight brought the family to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
"As our reputation has grown we are getting more of the severe infants," Paul Kingma, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor and neonatal director for the fetal care center at the Perinatal Institute Cincinnati Children's Hospital said.
Traditionally, the diaphragm is repaired within a few days of birth. The team waits up to six weeks to perform surgery. They also aggressively treat the baby's high pulmonary blood pressure with medication to give the lungs more time to grow.
"The benefit of that, by waiting is that when you take them to surgery and you are putting them through this stressful thing, their lungs are bigger, their pulmonary hypertension is less," Dr. Kingma said.
With the traditional approach CDH survival rates are about 42 percent in the U.S, for babies undergoing the newer treatment that number climbs to 75 to 90 percent.
As for Robby, his surgery was a success. Like most children with CDH, Robby has had trouble with acid reflux and has a higher susceptibility to heart and lung problems as well as developmental delays. MORE
Click here for additional research on Robby's Story: Saving Babies With CDH
Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Paul Kingma
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