A Washington girl is enjoying finally breathing without a tube after undergoing breakthrough surgery.
Hannah Schow was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects the development of a baby’s bones and other tissues in the face before birth. It affects one out of 50,000 births, according to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Hannah was treated.
The condition not only affected Hannah’s facial features but her airway. To save her life as an infant, doctors performed a tracheostomy, where an incision is made in the windpipe and a plastic tube is used to get air into the lungs. As a result, it’s difficult for people with a tracheostomy to speak and they are prone to infections.
“Her face was rotated up,” said Hopper. “The breathing passage was squished like [there was a] big tennis ball in her jaw.”
Having a tracheostomy meant that Hannah spent the first nine years of her life having difficulty talking and being unable to do activities like swimming or hiking. Hopper also said having the tracheostomy can be dangerous, especially if it becomes plugged and blocks the airway.
Hopper, along with 45 other medical staff, carefully planned out the invasive surgery that would help create an airway. A portion of Hannah’s face would be rotated to help her breathe easier.
After the surgery and weeks of healing, Hannah was finally able to take out her tracheostomy earlier this year.