Risky at-Birth Surgery Saves Baby With Rare Disorder

Doctors have performed a dramatic surgery to save a baby who was born with a life-threatening rare disorder that hampered his ability to breathe.

Months before Aydin Martin was born, a sonogram showed his windpipe was blocked, meaning he would die at birth if doctors didn’t take action. Instead of a traditional birth, a team of surgeons at NYU Langone had to deliver him via a special kind of cesarean section—so they could open his airway mid-way through, while he was still attached to the umbilical cord. The birth defect also enlarged his lungs, putting pressure on his heart so he needed additional emergency care to survive.

The highly complex procedure involving more than 25 doctors was the first step in a nearly yearlong process for Aydin, who was born in August 2021 with a very rare condition known as CHAOS, short for congenital high airway obstruction syndrome. The cause of the disorder is unknown. Babies almost always die after delivery from lack of oxygen if there isn’t medical intervention.

Aydin spent nearly six months in the neonatal unit before transferring to a rehabilitation facility. After 11 months and several surgeries, Aydin was able to go home and celebrate his first birthday.

“It hasn’t been smooth sailing,” says Aydin’s father, Jamaal Martin. “But there have definitely been more good days than bad.”

Aydin still faces a long recovery. Doctors eventually will rebuild Aydin’s windpipe so he can breathe on his own.