San Marcos, TEXAS (KXAN) - A San Marcos family couldn't be happier to have their newborn baby back home after their girl was diagnosed with a life-threatening birth defect before she was born.
But from extended hospital stays and surgeries came a miracle.
"She looks like dad," said Maria Evans, little Mariah's mother.
Wide-eyed, 3-month-old Mariah is getting stronger every day.
"I still can't believe that we have her here and she's doing so well," Maria said.
Maria and Bobby Evans received a welcome surprise last Christmas Eve. They were having a baby. But early on in the pregnancy a sonogram revealed something wasn't quite right.
Doctors diagnosed Mariah with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. Her diaphragm muscle wasn't forming. Organs were shifting into her chest. Her lungs couldn't properly develop.
Then, alarming news from their doctor in San Marcos.
"She said basically, in her 20 year career, she's seen five babies with this condition, and had never seen one go home," Bobby said.
Maria started seeing specialists at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. In May, a visit turned into emergency in-utero surgery.
"If [the doctor] wouldn't have done the surgery that day then the baby wouldn't have made it through the night," Maria said.
Maria spent the summer in Houston, putting life at home on hold.
"That was the longest I've ever been away from my home, my family, and my children," Maria said. "But we explained to them what was going on and they knew, they just have a great bond."
A bond made stronger with the family's newest edition. About six weeks early, Mariah was born. Doctors immediately performed more surgery.
"One of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Maria said. "But if anything, it brought us all even closer together."
They spent two more months in the hospital, then, Mariah made it home.
The Evans are heading back to Texas Children's Hospital Wednesday to see how soon Mariah will get off the oxygen and the feeding tube.
To give you an idea just how incredible it is that Mariah came home, of the close to 1,600 babies born every year with CDH, about 50 percent do not survive.
Doctors are still trying to find the cause of CDH. So far, it eludes them.
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