Like many kids his age, 3-year-old Emmanuel Peniche had started potty training.
During one potty session, though, something went very wrong. Emmanuel
started crying — apparently in pain — and then passed out.
Afraid, his parents, Felipe and Jetzabel, rushed him to a nearby hospital.
The facility was not equipped to treat him, so he was transferred to Huntington
Hospital for more advanced care.
Here, he was diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia: When Emmanuel
was growing in the womb, his diaphragm (a thin sheet that separates the
abdomen from the chest) did not close properly. As a result, his intestine,
colon and spleen had been pushed up into his chest. He would need surgery
to treat this rare birth defect, which is often fatal without intervention.
Steve Chen, MD, medical director of pediatric surgery, performed the operation
— carefully moving delicate organs to their correct places and closing
the hole in the little boy’s diaphragm. Emmanuel awoke with a repaired
diaphragm — and an overjoyed family.
“I think one of the things that makes the hospital so amazing is
that there’s so much support,” Jetzabel says, as she recalls
the family’s experience. “Our son was in good hands.”
Today, Emmanuel is a happy 7-year-old who loves going to Disneyland and
playing soccer with his older brother and twin sister. “The day
of the operation was our worst day … and our best day,” says
Felipe. “It was hard, but it was worth it just to see him getting
back to a regular life. Huntington Hospital saved my son, and changed
Watch Emmanuel’s parents share their story.