‘It was miracle’: Baby born with rare, undeveloped esophagus undergoes successful surgery to fix it

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Leo Boer was born with esophageal atresia. It’s a rare birth defect where the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach is not complete.

He underwent surgery in South Dakota, but the outcome was devastating.  

“We could just see it in his eyes. He was like, ‘Somebody help me,’” said Jasmine Boer, Leo’s mom.  

According to Boer, the procedure made Leo’s condition worse and created a larger gap in his esophagus.

Boer set out to find the best doctor to help her baby boy. It’s how she landed in Denver to meet with Dr. Steve Rothenberg, a pediatric general surgeon at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

“I’ve had other surgeons who have said that to me, like, ‘Bring your son. I’ll fix him.’ And Rothenberg was so honest with me he said, ‘I’m going to do the best I can,’” Boer said.  

“I couldn’t even guarantee that he could salvage his esophagus,” Rothenberg said.

Rothenberg performed the minimally invasive procedure of trying to connect his swallowing tube — a 50-50 chance.  

Boer flew with Leo on a special medical transport flight to Denver in April. It turned out to be the right choice. The procedure worked, and now Leo has a chance to heal and live a mostly normal healthy life.  

“We prayed hard, and it was miracle,” Boer said.  

It also means Leo will finally get to leave the hospital and fly to his home Iowa, where he will meet most of his family for the first time.  

Boer offered this advice to any parent suffering with a sick child: “Don’t give up. Go for the miracle. Pray for the miracle.”

Leo is expected to be released from the hospital early next week. 

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