Local News

Child With Rare Condition Continues To Beat The Odds

Posted June 1, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
Updated November 27, 2013 1:59 p.m. EST

— William Hartsfield is a lesson in faith. When he was born, doctors only gave him three days to live. Now, William is almost eight years old.

"He's already beat the odds because they said he wouldn't live if I didn't abort him," says mother Janet Hartsfield. "Thank God, I didn't because he is worth it."

William has a rare condition, Larynx Esophageal-Tracheotomy Cleft Type Three. The condition is so rare that only eight people have ever been diagnosed with it. Four of them have died.

When he was born, William's esophagus and trachea were fused together. He had two stomachs and all his organs are in the wrong place. His heart is under his right arm. He spent the first two years of his life in a Boston hospital.

Despite the grim outlook and the suggestions to terminate the pregnancy, Janet Hartsfield was determined to make a life for her son. Now, she says he has made a difference in hers.

"It's like he's made me realize that there's so many things in life to look at," Hartsfield says. "I think God gave me a pretty important job here, and I need to do the best I can."

William needs round-the-clock nurses. He has already had 12 operations.

"I think sometimes it is hard on William because you can see this look of fear," Hartsfield says.

William started treatment at Duke Children's Hospital six years ago. He returns two to three times a month for checkups. His mother says the hospital staff treats him like a person not just a patient.

"They always tell me they love William too because he wasn't supposed to make it and we feel a little responsible that he did," Hartsfield says.

William is now doing things no one thought he would be able to do. He is walking, talking and even going to school.

"Every day with him is a blessing," Hartsfield says.

Both of William's parents have been put through numerous tests, but doctors still do not know the cause of his condition. William is scheduled for more surgery at the end of the summer but he has some big plans for that. He is going to have a big birthday bash.

To help him, and thousands of other children,pledge your supportto the Duke Children's Miracle Network Champions telethon.