TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER -- Meet Brandon Carrier: a blonde-haired, green-eyed, cheerful baby boy who just celebrated his first birthday.

While all first birthdays are exciting, there is something exceptional about baby Brandon's.

Brandon was born at Tripler Army Medical Center, July 2, 2016, weighing only 5 pounds and 19 ounces. Parents, Maira and Brandon Carrier, went in to labor three weeks early, but anticipated the early delivery.

"We first found out when we went in for our 20-week checkup," said Maira. "They told us he had Gastroschisis. We had never heard of it before, and when they told us what it was, my heart sank."

Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which an infant's intestines and sometimes other organs are located outside the abdomen due to a hole in the fetal abdominal wall. Although medical professionals can diagnose the infant with gastroschisis before birth, the severity of each case varies and cannot be entirely identified until birth.

"Brandon Jr. has surgery at 2 days old and was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for one month. He was given 5 milliliters of breast milk at a time, but was not fully being able to digest it until two and a half weeks after being born," said Maira. "And even now, when he is about to turn 1, his diet consists of primarily milk and pureed baby food because he has difficulty digesting solids."

In March, the Carrier family sent a proclamation to the governor's office to recognize July 30th as Gastroschisis Awareness Day in Hawaii, to coincide with the nationally recognized day. The governor signed the proclamation, and the Carrier's decided to organize a walk/run to celebrate the momentous occasion.

The Carrier family invited the Oahu community to participate in a walk/run at Tripler the day before Gastroschisis Awareness Day, July 29. Participants wore lime green attire and lime green ribbons to support Gastroschisis Awareness.

"The Gastroshisis Awareness Walk/Run turned out better than we could have imagined," said Brandon Sr. "It was amazing seeing all of the love and support from everyone out there. Brandon Jr. was our inspiration. My wife and I want to thank all of the other organizers for the visibly hard work that went in to making it happen."

More Online
For more information on Gastroschisis, visit www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/pediatrics/gastroschisis_22,Gastroschisis/.