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Critical operation success for Dublin toddler

Filed under: Air Ambulances Abroad — Posted by: Richard on January 20, 2012

A specialised team of doctors in the USA has successfully ‘grown’ the oesophagus of a Dublin one-year old baby.

Elie Madden was born with a rare digestive disorder which prevents her from swallowing without medical intervention. As a result, she is unable to eat or drink for herself.

The condition, severe posterior tracheomalacia and long-gap oesophageal atresia, has seen Elie having a gap of just five centimetres between her oesophagus and stomach.

Discovering the family’s plight, the Irish Air Corps flew Elie, her mother and other members of the family over to Boston for the treatment which is not available in Ireland.

The medical escort used a hastily scheduled trans-atlantic air ambulance, courtesy of the Government’s Gulfstream IV jet; the first time it had been used for such a task.

Elie was taken to Children’s Hospital, Boston, where a team of experts in treating the condition employed a procedure called the Foker technique. Indeed, the doctor by which the procedure takes its name came out of retirement to lead the team.

An invasive procedure which stimulates the oesophagus to allow it to grow, it meant Elie had to be in an induced coma for 38 days.

Though still heavily sedated and facing three more operations, her mother was clearly delighted, saying:

“[The operation] has been a big success, and it is great to see that she is back with us again … and we could see her smile again.”

The treatment and air ambulance cost has been met by the HSE and VHI. However, the expense for Elie’s family to stay in Boston has been possible largely because of fundraising efforts.

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