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Mother’s Instinct Leads to Unexpected Diagnosis

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By Ashley Hagist
St. Joseph's Hospital/Phoenix

Thanks to Jennifer Fox’s motherly instincts, her baby, Josephine “Josie” Fox, is surviving the odds of a rare and relatively unknown birth defect. Josie was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center on Feb. 19 with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), which occurs in every 1 in 2,000 live births. On Monday, March 31, Jennifer and Jimmy Fox will get to bring home baby Josie for the first time which also happens to be the first Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) Awareness Day.

Josie's condition would have gone undetected had Jennifer not asked doctors for another ultrasound. Jennifer was 35 weeks pregnant when her motherly instinct told her to get one last ultrasound to make certain she was having a girl. During the ultrasound doctors detected and diagnosed Josie with CDH, a birth defect in which the abdominal organs “herniate” into the chest cavity due to a hole in the diaphragm.

“My intuition wasn’t convinced I was having a girl,” says Fox. “During my ultrasound, doctors reassured me I was having a girl and then told us they had detected a hole in Josie diaphragm and diagnosed her with CDH. “My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach when they explained to us that approximately 1,800 babies in the United States are born with CDH each year and approximately 50 percent of those births result in death.”

“We were devastated,” says Jimmy Fox. “We cried and cried and then began preparing ourselves for the worst.”

At three days of age, Josie underwent surgery to repair the hole in her diaphragm, a procedure that lasted approximately three hours. Doctors at St. Joseph’s repaired Josie’s diaphragm and moved her abdominal organs that were in her chest cavity back in place.

“Josie is doing wonderful,” says Jennifer. ”Our family will celebrate this day for the rest of Josie’s life; she is the poster child for CDH Awareness Day.”

Josie will not need further surgeries, but will be closely monitored by doctors for the next several years and is expected to lead a happy and normal life.

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