Owen's Story

Owen with his family"My little boy — with all those tubes going in and out of him — he squeezed my finger when I reached into his isolette."

Mark Brislin and his wife Maria had gone through a lot trying to conceive a child, so when a routine 20-week ultrasound revealed that their unborn son, Owen, had a life-threatening abnormality, they were stunned. Owen had CDH (congenital diaphragmatic hernia): a hole in his diaphragm. They turned to NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.

Almost immediately after Owen was born, he was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Time was of the essence: Owen's internal organs were pushing through the damaged diaphragm and pressing on his lungs. When he was two weeks old, surgeons rearranged the organs in Owen's body and closed the hole in his diaphragm. Today, Owen is a healthy, active growing boy.

About Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect that occurs when the diaphragm — the thin muscle separating the chest and abdomen — does not fully form. As a result, there is an opening in the diaphragm. Organs that are normally in the abdomen, including the intestine, move into the chest through this opening. This causes the lungs to be small and underdeveloped, making it difficult for a baby to breathe after birth. The heart might also not develop normally. Currently, little is known about why this birth defect occurs. After birth, these babies need support to breathe but when they are strong enough, the hernia is repaired with an operation.