By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A baby boy, born with a rare birth defect, is now 15 months old and thriving. He had major surgery to correct his anatomy just days after birth at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

His parents are sharing their story to help other parents.

(credit: CBS)

He’s a funny, happy, baby boy with two mothers who enjoy every moment with Eli. But there was a time when Jennifer and Debbie Stevenson wondered if their baby would survive.

Jennifer and Debbie Stevenson with Eli (credit: CBS)

“We were terrified,” said Jennifer.

When Jennifer was 18 weeks pregnant, she and Debbie learned that Eli had a rare condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a hole in his diaphragm.

(credit: CBS)

“He had all of his stomach, his spleen, his entire colon and all of his small bowel loops up in his chest,” explained Debbie.

The organs were preventing Eli’s lungs from growing. His parents were told their baby had a 50 percent chance of survival.

(credit: CBS)

“We were told that a third of the people terminate upon hearing this diagnosis,” said Jennifer.

(credit: Stevenson Family)

Debbie consulted experts in Boston only to learn Children’s Hospital Colorado had a cutting edge Fetal Care Center. Eli was born there. Four days later, he had surgery. He spent 7 weeks in Children’s.

(credit: Stevenson Family)

Eli’s 1st birthday party included his medical team led by pediatric and fetal surgeon, Dr. Ken Liechty.

(credit: Stevenson Family)

“His prognosis is great, he should do quite well,” said Liechty.

The Stevensons call Liechty “Batman.” He is their super hero.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s not just one person,” said Liechty, “but I’m happy to be their Batman.”

And one of the many people who gave little Eli a bright future.

Jennifer and Debbie Stevenson with Eli (credit: CBS)

“He has no fear at all and he’s going to set the world on fire,” said Debbie.

Children’s Hospital Colorado cares for 20 to 30 CDH patients a year.

(credit: Stevenson Family)

Eli’s parents say the team at Children’s not only takes care of the baby, but the family as well.

(credit: CBS)

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.


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