When Jacob was born, his esophagus had not formed properly and was attached to the trachea—a condition called esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula. Jacob could not swallow, was gasping for breath and could have potentially drown in his own secretions.

Only surgery would save his life and it would be quite risky for a newborn. The incision would be long and his recovery complicated.

But thanks to Children's pediatric surgeon Mark Wulkan, M.D., Director, Minimally Invasive Surgery, Jacob had another option: a new minimally invasive surgery involving smaller incisions, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery. Hoping to spare their tiny son unnecessary trauma, his parents agreed to this innovative procedure at Children's, one of the few pediatric hospitals in the country capable of performing this type of surgery.

The operation was a complete success—Dr. Wulkan was able to open Jacob's esophagus allowing him to swallow and breathe normally. Within weeks, Jacob went home. Today, he is an active, healthy child. He and his family helped open the door to treat others like him with the pioneering surgery.