Embrace Every Moment: Dillon's Story | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Embrace Every Moment

After three hours of rides, games and activities at the 15th Annual Fetal Family Reunion, 2½ year old Taylor was tired. Her brother Dillon, however, was still full of pep.Dillion
All Smiles
Clinicians at CHOP helped create smiles for Dillon (front) and his family. The 5½-year-old was born with congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM) and underwent surgery to remove the tumor after birth. For more photos from the reunion, see our slide show.

At 5½ years old, the brown-haired boy with freckles dotting his nose and cheeks could not stand still.

“My best ride was the merry-go-round,” Dillon said, then continued running in circles in the cafeteria where his family had sought air conditioning and a cool drink.

Every few minutes, Dillon would poke his tired sister – to her dismay. He wanted her to play too. She just wanted to rest on dad.

Parents Heather and Patrick Pfeffer, of Williamstown, NJ, smiled at the sibling shenanigans and told Patrick to leave his sister alone.

The family comes to the reunion almost every year, Heather said.

“It reminds us of what we went through with Dillon, how scared we were and how far we’ve come,” Heather said. Looking at her lively son, she said, “He’s doing so well now.”

Dillon was diagnosed prenatally at CHOP with congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM), a cystic or solid lung tumor. Born at 32 weeks gestation at Pennsylvania Hospital, Dillon only weighed 3 lbs., 9 oz., Heather said.

He needed to get stronger before he could have surgery at CHOP,” she said. She and her husband were able to take Dillon home, where he grew bigger and stronger.
When he was 4 months old, the couple brought Dillon to CHOP for surgery.

"That was probably the scariest time for me,” Heather said. “We had this wonderful baby at home with us, had bonded with him and seen him grow, and we had to bring him back to the hospital for such a serious surgery.”

The surgery to remove the tumor was a success, and after two days in the N/IICU at CHOP, Dillon went home again.

“We come to the reunion to remember,” Heather said. “It really put everything in focus. When you come so close to losing a child, you learn to embrace every moment.”

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