Brief History

When her daughter Alyssa was born undiagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia in May 1992, Danielle Kessner didn’t know what CDH was nor know anyone who had been affected by it. When her precious daughter died the day after she was born Danielle found herself in a very lonely place.

It took seven years, and the advent of the Internet, for her to discover other families, at which time she was determined to make sure other families in Australia were not alone in their CDH journey.

As well as personally supporting and connecting families, Danielle began facilitating annual forums in 2001 bringing families and medical professionals together to provide peer support and share knowledge.

To honour Danielle’s compassion and relentless hard work over 13 years of being President of CDHA, Danielle was awarded with CDHA’s first Honorary Life Membership in 2013.

Today, CDHA continues to strive for Danielle’s vision for no family to face CDH alone.



What is Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)?

The diaphragm is a muscle that helps us to breathe and separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. It develops in early foetal life. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia is the absence of the diaphragm or, more commonly, the presence of a defect in the diaphragm. It can occur on either the left or the right side but is most common on the left (80%).

As there is a defect in the diaphragm, the abdominal contents including the stomach, intestine, liver and spleen can be displaced into the chest cavity. CDH is usually an isolated condition, although other congenital anomalies, most commonly cardiac, may be associated and influence the prognosis.

Since these organs are in the chest cavity and not where they are supposed to be, the lungs have insufficient space to grow normally and are therefore smaller than they should be. The determinants of survival include the degree of underdevelopment/undergrowth of the lung and the supplying blood vessels with associated pulmonary hypertension, as well as the gestation of the baby.

– Associate Professor Nadia Badawi, Consultant Neonatologist



Get in touch…

Phone: 1800 149 562

Email: information@cdh.org.au