A first in the U.S.: Boy born without trachea, treated at Children's Hospital, turns ONE on Friday!

MILWAUKEE -- Thomas Richards, a boy born without a trachea, saved by doctors at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin turns ONE on Friday, April 7th. He's the first in the United States to survive this condition.

According to a statement from Children's Hospital, Richards was born on April 7th, 2016 with "trachea agnesis," described as "an extremely rare condition with fewer than 200 documented cases in the United States." CHW officials said never before in the U.S. has a patient survived when born without a trachea/windpipe because they're unable to breathe.

CHW officials said that would have been Thomas’ fate if not for a group of doctors who took extraordinary steps to save his life.


Immediately after Richards was born at Ministry St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Marshfield, doctors performed emergency surgery to get air to his lungs. Once stabilized, Thomas was then transferred to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where over the next several months he underwent many groundbreaking procedures – including detaching his esophagus from his stomach and connecting it to his lungs to serve as his trachea – to enable him to breathe on his own, CHW officials said in their statement.

The doctors who treated Richards say "every day of his life is a miracle," and on Friday, he'll celebrate his first birthday!

“There were and continue to be countless people involved in Thomas’ care and I am incredibly proud to be part of that team,” said Dr. John Densmore, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin who coordinated Richards’ case. “The doctors in Marshfield did amazing work to stabilize Thomas. Once at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the breadth and depth of expertise the hospital offers allowed us to create a treatment plan that will allow Thomas to breathe on his own.”