Illinois baby battles birth defect

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Only 1 in every 5,000 babies are born with a birth defect that almost took one Illinois baby's life.

After only 4 days of life, Dorothy Whitaker had to go through surgery because of this rare birth defect that's called an imperforated anus.
It's described as a blocked or missing rectal opening, and it can cause a lot of serious problems.

Those problems include kidney issues, holes in the heart, as well as trouble breathing. Dorothy is now 7 months old, and spent her last morning today at Mercyhealth in Rockford before heading back home to McHenry.

Dorothy's family says it has been difficult to stay positive through this, but they are proud to see all of the progress that Dorothy has made.

"Emotionally, for me, it's just, 'What can I do to get her through this? How can I help her?' it was never... Like, we never felt bad. We just wanted her to be able to do what she could do, you know? Make sure she's thriving," says Karissa Gonyo, Dorothy's mother.

Dorothy's surgeon says she has high hopes for Dorothy's future. Doctors will keep an eye on her to see how the birth defect will affect her later in life.

There aren't many pediatric surgeons in the area who can perform the kind of surgery Dorothy needed.

Dorothy's surgeon tells us only Chicago, Madison, and Rockford offer that level of pediatric care within a reasonable distance.