Featured cherub of the week is Elijah Litzner. Elijah is the son of our WI Ambassador, Janel Litzner.
Elijah was born in 2009 with a pre-diagnosed Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. He was stabilized enough for his first repair at 2 weeks. After several complications due to an infection, he was able to come home when he was 4 months old. He spent 2 months at home, but continued to develop symptoms of a possible re-herniation.
Elijah was re-admitted at 6 months where it was determined that the infection weakened his diaphragm (which was made of pig dermis) and needed another surgery to repair it. Elijah developed another infection during his recovery and required emergency surgery as his infection caused a wound dehiscence (a complication that causes wound separation) and needed his incision to be reinforced. He was finally stable enough to come home 6 weeks later.
Elijah also developed chronic lung disease due to prolonged intubations. This required several hospitalizations through his first cold and flu season. During one of his hospitalizations they discovered his second re-herniation. They also decided to remove the lower left lobe of his lung at this time so they scheduled a second repair as well as a partial lobectomy just after his first birthday. His surgeon also decided Elijah was at a good place to use his latissimus dorsi for his repair. We had heard great things about this type of repair and were completely on board. Elijah finally started to thrive after the partial removal of his lung and the new “fix”. We finally thought our hospital days were behind us, but after a routine follow-up with his pulmonologist six months later, it was found that his new “diaphragm” (aka….his back muscle) had somehow got pinched off by his rib and his body had absorbed it. This brought us to his third re-herniation and back to square one. We were devastated but also felt like this was becoming all too familiar.
At one and a half, Elijah was having his fourth diaphragm surgery. This ended up being the most extensive surgery as his skin around his stomach area had shrunk to the point that his intestines would not fit so they had to leave them outside his body and slowly place them back in over the next week. He was finally able to come home after another prolonged recovery process.
We are so grateful that since that last repair in 2011, Elijah has grown and developed into a beautiful young man who has faced many obstacles due to his traumatic start to his little life. He is dealing with autism as well as feeding issues, but exudes joy and love to everyone he meets!