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Helping Thomas Live a Healthy and Happy Life

150 Stories Thomas Derr

Thomas is a busy toddler who loves birthday parties and chocolate cake. But his life wasn’t always so sweet. He was born with a rare congenital combination known as VACTERL association. His trachea, esophagus and intestine were misaligned, meaning he couldn’t eat by mouth or have proper bowel movements. He needed two surgeries right away and another at 3 months old. He spent another month in our neonatal intensive care unit.

At Children’s National Hospital, Dr. Mikael Petrosyan spent a lot of time explaining Thomas’ unique anatomy to his parents, drawing diagrams to show where things were and where they should be and answering their questions. Reassurance also came from knowing about the collaboration among Thomas’ specialists — in cardiology, nephrology, radiology, plastic surgery, neonatology and pulmonology.

Thomas went home at 4 months old. Over the next year, he had many more hospital visits and procedures with Dr. Petrosyan. Dr. Gary Rogers, a plastic surgeon, reconstructed Thomas’ thumb due to an abnormality related to his congenital disorder.

Thomas at age 3, just became a big brother. “Thanks to Children’s National, we have a happy, healthy Thomas who is enthusiastic about life and can eat by mouth, which wasn’t always possible,” his mother Suzanne says. “We also have a team of specialists who consider his VACTERL to be a ‘normal’ condition, which is an extraordinary comfort.”

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Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you. Make it happen