It was a condition no doctor at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin had ever treated. In April 2016, Thomas Richards was born at Ministry St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Marshfield. He was pale and silent.
But thanks to the medical expertise and resources at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin and St. Joseph’s, Richards would survive.
Doctors at St. Joseph’s stabilized him and within hours, Richards and his parents were at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
He had been born without a trachea or windpipe. Babies born with this incredibly rare condition typically die within hours.
Dr. John Densmore, a pediatric surgeon at CHW and associate professor of surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, alongside a team of highly specialized colleagues including CHW doctors and MCW professors and associate professors Mike Mitchell, Keith Oldham, Michael McCormick and Louella Amos; nurse specialist Cecilia Lang; and St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital doctors Katie Dominguez, Nathan Schreiber and Babatunde Sobowale, coordinated Richards’ care.
The team created a plan, based on work done by a doctor in Japan, to modify Richards’ esophagus to create a new windpipe. Over the course of three months, the doctors performed four surgeries and within five months, he and his parents returned home.
Richards turned 1 in April. He has experienced no developmental delays.
In September, the team completed the surgery that reconnected Thomas’ mouth to his stomach, allowing him to eat food for the first time in his life.