MILWAUKEE, Wis. – A baby boy is thriving today thanks to a team of doctors who worked tirelessly to save him from a condition they had never seen before.
Little Thomas Richards arrived in April at the Marshfield Clinic in Milwaukee, but moments after being born, the baby boy wasn’t breathing at all.
His mother and father, Jessica and Corey Richards, never even got to hold their son before doctors whisked him away to figure out what was wrong.
Doctors tried to intubate him with a breathing tube, but soon realized Thomas was born without a trachea, otherwise known as a windpipe that connects the nose and mouth to the lungs, allowing air in.
He was transported to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. For months, Thomas underwent multiple surgeries. It wasn’t an easy road, but ultimately it led to success.
Doctors detached Thomas’ esophagus from his stomach and connected it to his lungs, allowing it to serve as his trachea.
“The doctors in Marshfield where he was born did amazing work to stabilize Thomas,” Dr. John Densmore, a surgeon, told WTMJ.
According to the Journal Sentinel, there are less than 200 recorded cases of the anomaly called tracheal agenesis. Most babies die from the condition moments after birth.
Thomas is now breathing on his own and he was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 1. The next step is to reestablish a link between Thomas’ throat and stomach, so he can eat normally.
Doctors say Thomas will likely never speak, because he doesn’t have vocal chords, so his parents are learning sign language.
His parents say Thomas is a happy baby. They told the Journal Sentinel have taken him camping and to several Minnesota Wild games.