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June 03, 2013 06:16 PM

A 20 Hour Surgery

Sioux Falls, SD

Having your child go through almost any surgery can be difficult. A Sioux Falls couple watched as their child underwent a 20 hour surgery, doctors here had never performed.

No matter what game they're playing, the Phillips family has learned to treasure every moment.

"I was so excited. I've always wanted to be a dad," David Phillips said.

But during Kassy Phillips’ 20 week ultrasound, doctors told her the couple’s first child would likely be born with some birth defects.

"Every two weeks we came in, and they found more issues and finally put it together that he had O.E.I.S. Complex," Kassy said.

"It's called Cloacal Exstrophy and it's an issue when the abdominal wall doesn't form properly," Sanford Pediatric Urologist Dr. Romano Demarco said.

When Asher was born at 29 weeks, his bladder, intestines and stomach were all outside of his body. His pelvic bones were also very widely separated.

"[I was] just terrified. It kind of started to rob our joy, so we had to really stand in our faith of the Lord," Kassy said.

Asher had one surgery shortly after he was born and another at three-months-old when doctors put his intestines and stomach inside his body.

"Years ago patients who had this condition typically would succumb because of nutrition issues or electrolyte abnormalities, but now with the advancements in NICU care these children now live," Demarco said.

And the Phillips knew Asher would still have to undergo a major surgery where surgeons would put his bladder inside his body.

"We've known about this surgery since before he was born, that this was going to be a big, long, 12 to 18 hour surgery," David said.

In fact, this was the first time this surgery would be performed at Sanford in Sioux Falls and it took a team of doctors almost 20 hours.

"We had to bring his pubic bones together. We then had to create and put his bladder together and do some other work down below," Demarco said.

Asher spent several weeks in the hospital, but now half a year later, he's dancing, walking and even running.

Even though Asher still will have to undergo more surgeries, doctors are optimistic, and his parents have high hopes.

"Just the typical Dad stuff, take him to sporting events,” David said. “I'm a big Bronco fan, so watching football.”

"There will always be things that are a little bit different about him but just that he'll take pride in those and be able to be confident in who he is and who God made him," Kassy said.

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