GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Owen Leader looks, by all accounts, like a healthy baby boy. But that wasn't always the case.
"We went to our 18 week anatomy appointment on April 24th 2017," said Owen's mother Catherine Leader. "The doctor called back and said that he had found something a little different."
Doctors found Owen had Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH. I't's a condition that causes a baby's organs to crowd the chest cavity, hindering development of the lungs and heart. It affects just 1 in 2500 babies.
"When they told me I just, I guess I just went numb," Catherine said.
Catherine had support with her in friends and family, but Owen's father Cody was away working in Pennsylvania when he got the news.
"Sort of in tears on the phone and you know it got really emotional. It just made your heart sink a little bit."
The Leaders were selected for a research treatment study called FETO, Fetoscopic Endoluminal Tracheal Occlusion at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.
"The hard part was telling Mary-Catherine," Catherine said. "We had to tell her when we were going you know that there was something wrong with her little brother but we were going to do everything that we could to get him well."
Owen's treatment began before he was born.
"They put a balloon in Owen's trachea while he was in utero to help enlarge his lungs," said Catherine. "He was born on Sept. 26 at Texas Children's Hospital and that started our journey from there."
It was a long journey. Owen spent 57 days in the hospital, and now nearly 7 months later, he has completed his final medicinal treatment.
"The team at TCH they really did a good job," said Cody. "They made us feel at home. We're so thankful for them and what they were able to do with Owen's life."
The Leaders accepted Owen's diagnosis, and knew they would make it through.
"A lot of people talk about survival rate, and they had a very low survival rate," said Catherine. "We never asked what our survival rate was. We just automatically knew that the good lord was going to take care of everything."
The Leaders now speak with other families affected by CDH in hopes of offering support and advice.
If you'd like to learn more about Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, you can find information at CDH International.