Hi my name is Courtney I am 23 years old. I was born May 24, 1989. My mother found out about my Cdh birth defect at her 12 week ultrasound. This was a very new birth defect to doctors at the time in Springfield, Mo. I was born via c section and immediately was rushed into surgery to repair my hernia with a patch. I stayed in the nicu until mid July. My Cdh caused some my left lung to not fully develop. My mom soon realized I could not hold formula down well. When I was about 5 I started choking. My earliest memory was when I was 7 years old and choked on a piece of chicken my mom rushed me to the er and I had to be put under to get the chicken pushed through to my stomach because it was so wedged in. About the same time I started going to my Pulmonologist (lung doctor) to have breathing treatments done, and they referred my mother to a Gastro doctor at the children's hospital in st.Louis,Mo because I was choking every time I ate. At the time in Springfield they did not have a children's doctor for this. We made the 3 hour trip when I was 8 years old and I had my first scope done. We found out that my esophagus was 5mm around and it was supposed to be 30mm around. They immediately stretched it with a balloon. I had to go back every 6 months they stretched it every year. I then found out o have gastroenteritis reflux disease. I started off on Prevacid one a day but I was having so much acid they kept raising the dose. They monitored me once and I had over 200 separate episodes of acid in one night. In school I had a inhaler for gym because I could not run long because of my lung capacity. By the time I was 20 I was on 6 Prilosec a day for my acid reflux. At 21 I got pregnant with my daughter I quickly found out 6 pills a day was against the federal recommended dose so they lowered me to 3 a day and they said that was safe for pregnancy. That was my only issue through pregnancy was my acid. I was so worried something was going to be wrong but I am happy to report that I had a healthy pregnancy and I now have a healthy 2 year old. I no longer have to go to my lung doctor, I just don't run for a long distance. I do see a gastroenteritis adult doc now and I had my last stretching a year ago and they said everything is looking wonderful. I only go back if I start choking again which will result in stretching. My esphogus is 25 mm around now and I can eat anything I want. There were times in life that I got very down and was very ashamed of my scar but I am finally accepting that it is my story and I am not ashamed. I never take a day for granted and am so happy to be here. I just want to give everyone some hope for their children. My mom will cry at the drop of a hat when it comes to my health so I definitely see the pain it causes but I just remind my mom I'm okay and I'm still here and so thankful. Just never lose hope.
(Here is Courtney and her daughter.)