New hope for babies born with diaphragm defects

Posted at 5:59 PM, Feb 25, 2016

New hope exists for babies born with a potentially deadly birth defect.

A specialist at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg has a record of saving more lives than anyone else. 

"I was asked to terminate my pregnancy. We were told he wouldn't make it," said Stefanie Schram, recalling what  she was told when her son, Samuel, was born. 


Ten-month-old Samuel Schram was diagnosed at 13 weeks with a hole in his diaphragm. Five days after he was born, Samuel went into major surgery. 


The doctor "took out his organs to put them back where they were supposed to go, because his intestines, his stomach and his spleen shifted up into his chest cavity," Stefanie said. 


The Schrams trusted one man to do the surgery, David Kays, who specializes in a medical condition known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia at All Children's Hospital. 


"The obstetricians and perinatologists nationally really don't understand how good survival can be that's part of our mission is to let people know, but a lot of moms when they're diagnosed with this condition are offered termination very early," Kays said. 


About 1,000 babies a year are diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia in the United States. Kays said nationally, less than half survive, but in his hands, about 90% survive. 


"We believe they all can survive so we don't give up on anybody and we give everybody their chance," Kays said.


He didn't give up on 9-month-old Jaxson, who had 95% of his diaphragm missing and 7 surgeries. 


"You fight with them you're right there fighting with them cause you know that they're fighting too," his mom, Ally Sanchez said.


Both families are thankful to Kays for saving their baby boys, who now are healthy and thriving.


"He's a miracle. He's a miracle 100 percent," Sanchez said of her baby.