For the first few months of her life, Madison Caputo was just like any other child, but then her parents noticed that something was off.

“She had a really hoarse cry,” her father Mike said. “It was kind of weak, and kind of airy.”

When the family took Madison to see a doctor, they found out that she had not one, but two rare problems.

“The front half of her vocal chords was fused together at birth,” Dr. Jonathan Aida said. “The area below her vocal chords continued to be fused a few millimeters down her airway.”

These conditions are incredibly rare, and as a result only a handful of hospitals in the country are able to treat the issues. One of those, Lurie Children’s Hospital, is in the Chicago area, and after Madison became unexpectedly ill, doctors knew that she needed to have surgery quickly.

“She was at risk for this to start to impact her airway if she got sick, which could have caused swelling of her airway,” Lurie Children’s Dr. Jeff Rastatter said.

In August, nine-month old Madison was operated on at Lurie’s, as doctors worked on her vocal chords in a complex eight-hour surgery. Fortunately for Madison and her family, everything went exactly as planned, but it wasn’t easy for her parents to watch unfold.

“They make it sound so simple,” Madison’s mother Becca said. “(They) took some cartilage out of her ribs. (They) cut open her airway and they sewed it back together. She did great.”

Today, doctors say they will continue to monitor her growth and to make sure that her windpipe is growing with her. In the meantime, Madison is happy and healthy, and her parents are thrilled that they got to celebrate her first birthday.  

“In the back of our minds, we knew that there was a big chance that she wouldn’t have made it to this day,” Becca said. “We are very grateful for having our baby here to celebrate her first birthday.” 

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