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Church rallies behind baby born without vocal cords

By: Eric Czarnik | Warren Weekly | Published September 25, 2013


STERLING HEIGHTS — A Sterling Heights congregation recently pitched in financially to bring meaning out of CHAOS.

St. Blase Parish held a Sept. 6 fundraiser on behalf of Grant Hasse, a 1-year-old baby who was born with congenital high airway obstruction syndrome, or CHAOS.

Due to the expense of surgery and care, the church congregation met at the Century Banquet Center in Sterling Heights to hold a benefit concert that included music by the band Blackthorn, raffles and “speed painter” Dave Santia.

St. Blase’s business manager, Tim Doppel, said the event sold out an estimated 400 tickets and “came out huge.” Doppel said the final amount raised was in the thousands of dollars.

“About a year ago, we baptized Baby Grant while he was still on a ventilator,” Doppel said. “Our priest asked the community, ‘Will you support this family?’

“Well, this was a chance for our community to come together and show support in a very tangible way that we normally don’t have the opportunity to do.”

According to the church, most babies who are diagnosed with CHAOS don’t survive. In Grant’s case, the condition completely obstructed the airway of his throat and prevented him from having vocal cords. As a result, he couldn’t breathe in a normal way and had to initially be on a ventilator at all times.

Grant’s mother, Andrea Hasse, said she found out about Grant’s condition during the 18th week of gestation. She said she gave birth to him at week 27, when he was taking in a large amount of fluids, causing his organs to swell.

Before the umbilical cord was even cut, the doctors gave Grant a tracheotomy tube so he could breathe.

“The likelihood of him surviving was less than a 5 percent chance,” she said.

Hasse said doctors told her that Grant is the first known case of a child who had no vocal cords whatsoever due to CHAOS. She said Grant has endured around 13 surgeries altogether — including 10 since last June.

The most recent surgeries have made progress toward removing the airway obstruction to help him breathe.

“They always thought he would be ventilator-dependent if he survived, but he is proving them wrong,” Hasse said. “He is able to breathe on his own. He is withstanding all the procedures.”

According to Hasse, the doctors’ care might make it possible for Grant to speak, despite his lack of innate vocal cords. She said they actually built him vocal cords and inserted them, and the cords are now vibrating, which means that Grant may one day speak and make sounds.

Hasse called Grant’s medical journey “indescribable.”

“Both my husband and I feel that we are blessed to be Grant’s parents,” she said. “It is not a hindrance. It’s more of a blessing. We feel that we are blessed beyond measure. Grant has taught us life lessons even in his short life so far.”

One of those lessons, she said, is that the impossible is possible with even the smallest amount of faith.

“The human spirit is stronger than we give it credit for,” she said. “Miracles exist all around.”

Additional donations for Baby Grant can be made by check payable to Grant Hasse through St. Blase Parish, 12151 E. 15 Mile Road, in Sterling Heights. Call (586) 268-2244 for more information.