"Our miracle baby": surviving CDH and spreading hope to others

Avery's a sign of hope for many other families dealing with CDH.

If you've ever known someone to have a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, you know the struggles and sometimes devastation a family can face.

CDH is a birth defect affecting 1 in 2,200 babies. Only about 65 percent survive.

We visited with one mother who says it's possible. Her daughter's living proof.

Avery's story

"She wasn't breathing very well when she was born. The doctors decided to take her to the NICU," said Heidi Gaulding, Avery's mother.

It was then that doctors found baby Avery was suffering from CDH.

"We had no idea what they were talking about. I asked the doctor to elaborate on it," said Gaulding.

By looking at an x-ray, doctors found Avery had a hole in her diaphragm, which had allowed some of her abdominal organs to rise up into her chest cavity. That in turn, restricted one of her lungs from growing which is why she had breathing problems.

In many cases, kids with CDH go home undiagnosed, and then it's too late.

Avery was airlifted to St. Louis Children's Hospital for surgery.

"When they got in there, they found 75 percent of her diaphragm was missing, and that her liver was up in the hole and was blocking some of her abdominal contents from entering the chest cavity, which ended up saving her life. Because it allowed her lung to grow and she had two-thirds of a lung. Typically these CDH babies don't have a chance because they don't have that much lung growth on the side of the hole," said Gaulding.

The surgery itself was a risky move. ctors moved her organs back into place and were able to repair the diaphragm with muscle from her rib cage.

Seven months later, Avery is a growing baby girl.

"You look at her now and you'd never know she went through anything she did," said Gaulding.

All evidence has since di s ap p eared except for a lifesaving scar across her belly.

Avery's a sign of hope for many other families dealing with CDH.

"Whether they're only hear for a short time, or they make it through it and live a normal, healthy life, or even make with without a normal, healthy life like typical babies do, they were put on this earth for a purpose and cherish every moment."

As for Avery, "she's just such a blessing, you know, our miracle baby."

Cadan's Carnival

If you'd like to help other families going through the same ordeal, take part in Cadan's Carnival this weekend.

More than two years ago, Tiffany and Rome Frericks lost their baby boy Cadan Christopher to CDH. Since then, they have raised more then $20,000 dollars through Cadan's Carnival.That money is presented to Cadan's doctor at St. Louis Children's Hospital for more research on CDH.

So join the Frerick's this Sunday for Cadan's Carnival from 1-5 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus in Quincy.