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Baby Born Unable To Swallow Gets Life-Saving Surgery

By Kathy Walsh

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)- A baby, who was born unable to swallow, should be home in Grand Junction for Christmas. His mother credits a Denver surgeon who repaired the life threatening condition through just three tiny incisions.

This mother sought out Dr. Steven Rothenberg. She didn't want her baby boy to suffer the possible complications of an open surgery including scoliosis and chest wall deformity later in life.

Kylie Dorsey (credit: CBS)

With Rothenberg, she found the surgeon who pioneered this minimally invasive technique nearly 20 years ago.

Two-and-a-half month old Luke Allen has big brown eyes, amazing hair and a pretty loud gurgle for a tiny baby. That's because Luke is still learning to swallow.

(credit: CBS)

"We knew by the second ultrasound that something was wrong," said Kylie Dorsey, Luke's mother.

In Grand Junction where she lives, Kylie learned the two ends of her baby boy's esophagus, or swallowing tube, were not connected. Luke had about a three-inch gap.

(credit: Rocky Mtn. Hospital For Children)

"I didn't even think he was going to live," said Kylie.

Luke needed a feeding tube and chest surgery to repair the rare birth defect.

"I couldn't imagine having to see him opened up like that," said Kylie.

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(credit: CBS)

So online, through a 53-year-old man in England who had a similar birth defect years ago, Kylie found pediatric surgeon Dr. Steven Rothenberg.

"We pioneered minimally invasive surgery in babies," explained Rothenberg.

BIRTH DEFECT 5PKG_frame_1626
Dr. Steven Rothenberg (credit: CBS)

He was located just hours away, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

"We mobilized the two ends and then stretched them together," said Rothenberg. "In Luke's case, we were able to overcome the gap and get them together."

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(credit: CBS)

He then stitched them, all through just three tiny incisions.

"We got really lucky that we found who we did," said Kylie.

(credit: CBS)

Luke is expected to be home for Christmas. Kylie can't wait to be a regular mom.

"Normal can be a possibility and that's amazing," she said.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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