Children's Hospital saves boy born without trachea

Posted at 11:57 PM, Nov 13, 2016

A team of doctors at Children's Hospital saved a baby's life by performing a set of surgeries that have never been done in the United States.

In April, Thomas Richards was born unable to breathe in Marshfield. Doctors at the Marshfield Clinic discovered Richards was born without a trachea. In consultation with doctors at Children's Hospital, they performed emergency surgery and then transferred him to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. 

For months, Richards went through multiple surgeries. According to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, doctors detached Richards' esophagus from his stomach and connected it to his lungs to serve as his trachea. A stiff sleeve of synthetic material was sewn to his esophagus to expand and strengthen the tube so it could function as Richards' wind-pipe.

“I am proud to say I was part of Thomas’ care, but there were countless people involved in his care,” said Dr. John Densmore, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin who coordinated the case. “The doctors in Marshfield where he was born did amazing work to stabilize Thomas. Once at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the breadth and depth of expertise the hospital offers allowed us to create a treatment plan that will allow Thomas to breathe on his own.”

Richards is now back home and is doing well.

In the past century, less than 200 babies were born without a trachea. Unfortunately, many of those babies died within hours of being born.