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Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
Alfred Guarisco

After receiving the diagnosis of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia at 36 weeks gestation, we were sent from the Mobile/Daphne area to Birmingham to deliver at UAB. Alfred (Al) was born in the worst of shape and sent immediately to Children's Hospital and placed on ECMO. He fought against all the odds, coming off ECMO after two weeks, through surgery to place a synthetic diaphragm, off the ventilator at six weeks, through more surgery and ventilator time while two months old, then finally home at 3 1/2 months; although still on oxygen, monitors, and a feeding tube. He remained very fragile for several years and was readmitted several times for more surgery and illness; but slowly got stronger and came off his oxygen and began taking some food orally.
When he was two years old he lost all his usable hearing and we began another more long term adventure. He has received bilateral Cochlear Implants through the HEAR Center at Children's. We came from the Mobile area weekly for speech therapy for almost two years, until there was a trained therapist in our area; and still visit the HEAR center frequently for programming. When he was 4 years old his congenital heart defect was repaired using another new technology, an Amplatzer device, during his one stay at UAB. When he was five years old he was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficency and now takes daily injections and is seen frequently at Children's Park Place clinic.
As school started and the time has flown by in the last few years he finally made the complete transition to eating orally and no longer has the feeding tube. We are so blessed that he is an honor roll student in a regular classroom and even does gymnastics! He still has issues, occasional surgeries, and gets respiratory illnesses easily. But he takes it all in stride with a brave and accepting personality. He LOVES "his" Children's Hospital! We can't express enough in words how much all the staff through all the years in all areas of the System have meant to us and to Al. Thank you all!
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