Born on Oct. 25, 1995, at Rose Medical Center, Chris Downs was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia on the right side and given a 25 percent chance to survive. A diaphragmatic hernia is a rare birth defect in which one of the abdominal organs moves upward into the chest through an abnormal opening in the diaphragm. Chris was in need of a higher level of care so he was rushed to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center (P/SL). Under the care of Jeff Hanson, MD, neonatologist, he was treated using Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a procedure that uses a machine to take over the work of the lungs. When Chris was successfully removed from ECMO and the six children before him did not survive, his family distributed “I Believe in Miracles” buttons to the entire NICU staff at P/SL. The NICU staff continues to wear the buttons 20 years later.

Chris is now a healthy 20-year-old college student at CU-Boulder. In June, Christopher and several members from his Pi Kappa Phi fraternity will participate in “Journey of Hope,” a 3,500 mile bike ride from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. They are raising money for The Ability Experience, a charity designated for assisting people with disabilities. During the ride, the riders will make daily stops to have “friendship visits” with people suffering with disabilities.