Gastroschisis patient now a happy, healthy 2-year-old

Charlie Curtis was born with a defect in which his intestines were outside of his body


Early in her pregnancy, Liz Curtis received the life-changing news that her baby had gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines are outside of the body, due to a hole in the abdominal wall.

Charlie Curtis, then and now
Charlie Curtis, then and now

"When we received Charlie's gastroschisis diagnosis, we were pretty surprised. Dealing with a condition we had never heard of with specialist doctors we didn't know existed was something I didn't expect,” said Charlie’s mom, Liz Curtis.

The condition was diagnosed during a 12-week nuchal translucency ultrasound and was confirmed in a 16-week ultrasound. Afterward, Curtis met with many specialists, including the UC Davis Fetal Care and Treatment Center team that regularly treats gastroschisis patients. She toured UC Davis Children’s Hospital and its level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and prepared for what to expect. 

At 34 weeks, Liz Curtis’s water broke and baby Charlie was born. He spent 46 days in the UC Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Thanks to UC Davis Health surgeons, physicians, nurses and his whole care team, his gastroschisis was successfully treated.

“When babies with anomalies like Charlie's are first born, it can be incredibly stressful for parents. By preparing parents in advance, we can help reduce that anxiety so that they can focus on the incredible future ahead for their family,” said UC Davis Fetal Care and Treatment pediatric surgeon Payam Saadai.

These days, Charlie is a healthy and happy 2-year-old, without even a scar to tell the tale.

“You would never know any of that seeing Charlie now. He is a healthy, energetic kid that climbs on everything and is going to be a big brother in October!" Liz Curtis said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1,871 babies are born each year in the U.S. with gastroschisis. July is national gastroschisis awareness month.