Family prepares for first holidays after newborn faced death

Family prepares for first holidays after newborn faced death

YAKIMA, Wash.-- A Yakima family suffered one of the worst years of their life this year being told their newborn could die. Months later, the baby has recovered from the life-threatening birth defect and the family is preparing for their first Christmas together.

Just shy of eight months old, Emmanuel Barragan-Flores looks like a normal, happy and curious baby. But, there was a time his parents didn't know if he'd live this long.

Emmanuel was born with his esophagus connected to his windpipe, making it impossible for him to eat or drink. He was airlifted to Seattle before his mom could even be discharged from Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

"He was a newborn and then all of a sudden we had to split up," Emmanuel's dad Sixto Barragan said.

Emmanuel spent weeks in Seattle's Childrens Hospital. Doctors operated repeatedly to stretch his esophagus. 

"We would sit down and think 'What if our baby doesn't make it?'" Emmanuel's mom Zobeyda Flores said. 

Now more than seven months later, Emmanuel is home eating normally with nothing more than a normal baby's cough.

"Good feeling, going home," Barragan said.

The family is ready to spend the holidays together for the first time, something that didn't seem that likely a few months ago.

"The rest of the years we wouldn't buy a Christmas tree and now we started getting ready for Christmas," Barragan said. "Halloween, the same thing."

Emmanuel's parents credit a lot of their son's recovery to Airlift Northwest, the company that flew him to Seattle, a trip that saved crucial time when every minute counts.

"There's some parents that lose their babies and just imagining how he went through everything, it's an amazing feeling," Flores said. 

These days, Emmanuel only goes to the doctor for his normal check-ups; a welcome change for his parents.

Doctors say Emmanuel's recovery shouldn't have complications now that he's been given a clean bill of health.