Michael’s Story: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

During a 17-week ultrasound, Wanda and her husband Michael Sr. learned that the baby they were expecting had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). They were devastated when the physician recommended terminating the pregnancy, and pressed for further options.

They found the hope they were looking for at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Today, Michael Jr. is a senior in high school, playing percussion in his school’s marching band and interested in pursuing a career as an electrical engineer. Read more about Michael’s journey.

Wanda walked into The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when she was 17 weeks pregnant with her son Michael. Look at him now.


Michael’s story: Congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Wanda, Mother: CHOP has been a very big inspiration in our life. They did wonders. And if it wasn’t for them I don’t know what we would have done. It would have been our third child that we would have lost.

They brought him through, so we’re just blessed, really blessed.

I went to the doctor, and I guess I was 17 weeks pregnant. And that’s when I got the bad news that Michael had a diaphragmatic hernia. The diaphragm is a flap of muscle that separates the lungs from the abdominal organs. A diaphragmatic hernia is a hole in the diaphragm that lets the abdominal organs move up in the chest area. And that can harm lung development, which Michael only had 34% lung on the left side.

When I spoke to the doctor he had said that Michael had 0.9% chance of living. I was devastated because I had already lost two babies. When we went to CHOP, they gave us hope. And they gave us different options to do. And we chose to keep him. So we had him at 36 weeks.

Michael, Father: I got emotional when … as she gave birth. Then … I said if he was gonna make it or not. So they grabbed him real fast and they had him, all the machines in the back. So I’m sitting there waiting. And the doctor opened the door, he put his thumb up He saved my son. So I was really happy, I was really happy.

Wanda, Mother: After birth, they took him over to CHOP. Michael had two surgeries to fix the diaphragmatic hernia. And after that we was able to take him home in 40 days.

I chose CHOP cause I heard they had wonderful doctors there. And my dream came true. CHOP saved my child.

Michael, Father: He’s grown up and become a young man. He’s in the marching band, and it’s like, it’s amazing.

Wanda, Mother: Michael can do all the things that other kids his age can do. He can jump, play, you know, he tires out a little faster, but whatever Michael wants to do, we let him do. He’s a very jolly kid. He got a big heart, loves everyone.

Michael, Father: I’m very, very proud of him.

Wanda, Mother: I walked through the doors of CHOP when I was 17 weeks pregnant with Michael.

Michael, Patient: Look at me now.

Topics Covered: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)

Related Centers and Programs: The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Celebrates 20 Years, Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment