Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – Emmett Leonard is a Fort Wayne boy with an incredible story. He was born with his intestines outside of his body. It’s a birth defect called gastroschisis. His mother Lyndsey Leonard calls her six year old a miracle. “You would never know anything is wrong with him if you didn’t know he’d been born with a birth defect,” she says.
Leonard says gastroschisis cases are growing. Researchers are trying to pinpoint what causes the defect and ways to prevent it. Surgery is used to repair the condition. “It mainly causes the intestines and sometimes other organs to develop outside of the body. Emmett had his initial repair at birth but at six months, two years, four years, 5 years and he’s now six, he continues to have surgeries that follow the damage to the tissues of his esophagus. He has an issue with digestion.”
Leonard and her family are with a support group called Avery’s Angels. It was formed in 2009, by a North Carolina woman who’s son died from gastroschisis complications. Leonard is in charge of the Indiana chapter. “I have 44 families all together, ” she says. “We are an all donation, all volunteer driven foundation.”
Leonard and her family will join other families for Indiana’s sixth and Fort Wayne’s second Gastroschisis Awareness Day Celebration. The event will take place at Lakeside Park Pavilion number two, at 1401 Lake Avenue on Sunday, July 30th from 12 to 4 pm. It is free and open to the public.