2013-12-06 / Columnists

An Intern’s Take

By Ilyassha Shivers

As I alluded to in my previous article, my son Judah Shivers had a rough road. He started off having to fight for his life just hours after his birth. We knew from early in my wife's pregnancy that it was high risk. We were told that we should seek help from the doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital. They are among the most experienced team of doctors for treating a child born with Judah’s condition.

As instructed by my wife’s obstetrician we transferred the remainder of her prenatal care to New York Presbyterian Hospital, and it was suggested that Judah be born there. His disorder is called CDH which stands for Congenial Diaphragmatic Hernia. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital: CDH is a hole in the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs that is responsible for breathing). It allows organs from the abdomen to move into the chest. The diaphragm is a thin layer of muscle and tissue that separates the chest and abdominal cavity. It is the muscle that the body uses to breathe. When your child has CDH, it means that there is a hole in that layer—or, rarely, that the diaphragm is missing altogether. This prevents the normal development of the lung on that side, and may also affect the growth of the other lung. And when your child’s lungs do not fully develop, he will have trouble breathing after he is born.

In Judah's case the diaphragm did not form, so the contents of his abdominal cavity shifted to his chest, not allowing one of his lungs to fully form. Three days after he was born they had to operate. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. Not knowing what the outcome would be? If he would survive the operation? We did, however, promise to leave the outcome in God’s hands. Turned out, that after the operation was complete was when the fight really began. Judah had trouble breathing on his own and he needed numerous blood transfusions. He was placed on a machine called ECMO that would oxygenate his blood and then return it to his body. Judah stayed in the hospital for over a month after he was born. This all occurred in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, so there was limited public transportation on and off the peninsula. It was especially difficult because we have two other children. As you can imagine, it was rough on She- lah and Elijah. My wife and I would take turns traveling to the city, all hours of the night, catching the bus and taking it to Aqueduct to catch the A train to 168th Street. I spent countless nights by Judah’s bedside trying to make this process as normal as possible. Through it all I learned what faith is really about and that God is still in control at the end of the day.

Judah is a miracle today. He is thriving well in all areas. I want to thank all those who prayed for him and all the doctors and nurses that cared for him. I wrote a song about the experience and continue to try to bring awareness to CDH and the wonderful doctors at New York Presbyterian Children Hospital and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Thank you to everyone who continues to support this paper and specifically “An Intern's Take.”

As this year comes to a conclusion I will be holding a few programs as we celebrate Kwanzaa and all the other celebrations that take place this time of the year. I hope everyone comes out and supports as we continue to educate and inspire each other. Tell me what you think send your comments to shiverswave@gmail.com.

Keep the faith and don’t forget to read The Wave.

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