Spotswood family pledges birth defect awareness despite canceled walk


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SPOTSWOOD–Despite having to postpone their Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness Walk, resident Marylin Israel and the Spotswood Police Department still were able to raise $2,740 for the cause.

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a birth defect that occurs during fetal development, causing a hole in an infant’s diaphragm that ultimately allows the organs to crown the abdomen, leaving limited room for the lungs to grow. About 1,600 babies are born with CDH every year in the U.S. but only 800 survive, according to Israel.

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“My grandson [Asher Garcia] was diagnosed with CDH during a 20-week ultrasound. After five long months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he [has since] returned home and he is a true blessing and a warrior,” Israel said.
Asher is now nine months old and doing well, his grandmother said.
“CDH is a devastating and complex birth defect. Not a lot of people are aware of it,” Israel said.
With the awareness walk originally scheduled for April 18, it was postponed because of social distancing in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however it will be rescheduled.
Israel said residents can still donate at under “Asher CDH Survivor.” The $2,740 raised as of press time will benefit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
On April 6, Mayor Edward Seely presented a proclamation to Israel, declaring April 19 “Asher Garcia Day” and “Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness Day” in the borough.
Council President Larry Kraemer read the proclamation on behalf of Seely.
“There are many families living in New Jersey with babies who have been diagnosed with and survived CDH, including one of our own, Marylin Israel, whose grandson Asher was born with this defect, though many families have endured the horrible pain and grief associated with the loss of loved ones to this condition,” Kraemer said.
Kraemer said Seely encouraged all residents to show their support for Asher on April 19 by wearing blue, pink, yellow or white. Israel said these colors represent the CDH ribbon. Blue and pink represent birth defects, the yellow represents the survivors and the babies who are still fighting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the white represents the 50% of babies who did not survive.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am to Mayor Seely to honor my grandson Asher with a proclamation proclaiming April 19 Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness Day in the Borough of Spotswood, and furthermore proclaiming April 19 Asher Garcia Day,” Israel said. “Seely has shown me how caring and supportive he is when it comes to children, especially children with medical conditions. Deeply in my heart, I thank Seely and gratefully appreciate that recognition.”
On April 19, Israel said she, her family and residents posted pictures of their support for Asher on Facebook with the words, “We Support Asher.”
“I want to thank immensely the Spotswood Parent Teacher Association for their support towards Asher,” Israel said. “I am truly blessed to live in such a great town where people come together to show their love and support towards my family. It takes a village.”


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