25 Years of CDH International – 1995

CDH International was founded in February, 1995 as “CHERUBS – The Association of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Research, Advocacy and Support” by Dawn (Torrence) Ireland and Rhonda Montague, 2 CDH moms who met in the PICU of Duke University in 1993.

CHERUBS was named for the 3 babies born with CDH in the PICU at that time; Shane Torrence, Preston Montague and Andrea Jones.

Preston and Andrea lost their fights and were never able to leave the hospital. CHERUBS was named after them for “cherubs”, which are baby angels. Shane would join them in 1999, at 6 and a half years old due to a recurrent CDH.

CHERUBS was started with a typewriter on Dawn’s kitchen table and a clear vision of providing CDH support, research, and awareness.

Our journey began by recruiting Shane’s surgeon, Lesli Taylor, and his nurse/god-mother, Rachael King, as Vice-President and Board Member. With $100 donated and donated printing for our first newsletter, we bought postage stamps and began writing to hospitals around the world to find other families affected by Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.

Reflections from our President, Dawn Ireland:

The first thing that our charity ever did was to create the first printed material for CDH families in the form of a newsletter. I had no idea what to include so I put together what was a basic Parent Reference Guide along with my son’s story. I typed up whatever I could think of that we wished we had known and cut it out and arranged it together on my kitchen table.

My son was then just 2 years old and still trached. But he was stable. And it was time to help other families.

A local printing company put it together as 1995 was pre-desktop computers and my electric typewriter only had 2 fonts. They donated the typesetting services and 250 copies of the black and white newsletter on blue paper.

Those copies were then sent off to all the CDH researchers that I could locate based on my then 2 years of scouring Duke and UNC’s medical libraries for any journal articles on Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia that I could find. Also included were letters asking these surgeons to please give patient families the newsletters and the new charity’s information.

Immediately, Dr. Michael Harrison (UCSF), Dr. Jay Wilson (Boston Children’s), Dr. Vincent Adolph (Oschner) and several others responded, offering their support. Our first Medical Advisors were then on board.

25 years later, the Parent Reference Guide still uses some of the text from that first newsletter.

Dawn Ireland, CDHi President, CHERUBS Founder

CDH Medical World News for 1995

  • The CDH Study Group was formed with medical professionals from the around the world with a vested interest in CDH.
  • Nitric Oxide first used in the treatment of CDH.

CDH International News for 1995

  • “CHERUBS – The Association of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Research, Advocacy and Support” was founded.
  • The first CDH newsletter was published.
  • First CDH Parent Reference Guide created.
  • 2 newsletters published for the CDH community.

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