Author: Jessica Cerretani

What parents should know about hypospadias

cartoon birds talking about hypospadias
ILLUSTRATION: PATRICK BIBBINS/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

It’s one of the most common birth defects, affecting an estimated 1 out of 200 boys. But most parents aren’t aware of hypospadias until their child is diagnosed with it. In this condition, the opening of a boy’s urethra (through which both urine and semen pass) is located on the underside of his penis rather than at the tip of it. In about 80 percent of boys with hypospadias, this opening is found near the end of the penis. Fifteen percent of those boys also have a condition called chordee, in which the penis curves downward to varying degrees. Hypospadias is usually diagnosed at birth, but severe cases are increasingly being diagnosed in utero with ultrasonography.

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No more missing out: Bouncing back after an SCT

Emilya after treatment for her SCT
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE SHNAYDER FAMILY

Like many parents, Kat Shnayder and her husband, Serge, got creative as they prepared for the birth of their daughter, Emilya: Kat took to Pinterest to design the nursery, while Serge learned woodworking and created handmade toys. But their productivity served another purpose, too: “We needed to stay occupied,” explains Serge.

Months earlier — on a Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the couple was at a routine ultrasound appointment to learn their baby’s sex when the clinician called them aside. At the same time they learned that they were having a girl, they were told that she had a tumor at the base of her tailbone called a sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT).

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‘Finally who I should be’: Meet Zack

Following phalloplasty, Zack's transition is complete.
Zack with part of his care team: Elizabeth Boskey, Dr. Amir Taghinia, Dr. Oren Ganor and Dr. David Diamond. (ALL PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ZACK HOGLE)

Zack Hogle woke up feeling groggy, sore and — at last — whole. He had just undergone more than 14 hours of surgery, but he was elated. “When I looked down at my body, I couldn’t stop crying,” he says. “I finally felt like myself.”

The surgery was the last step in what had been a lifelong journey. Growing up in a small town in Western Massachusetts, Zack, now 24, says he always knew he felt different. “I hated my body,” he remembers. “I thought, ‘I’m not the same as other kids and this isn’t okay.’” It wasn’t until he was in high school that he learned the word transgender and what that meant. The realization was a turning point.

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Andrew’s story: Gold medalist kicks aerodigestive problems

With his asthma under control, Andrew holds the American flag after winning a gold medal
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE WARREN FAMILY

Last November, Andrew Warren stood on the podium in front of the American flag, grinning proudly as the medals around his neck glinted in the light. He had traveled to Orlando, Florida from his home in upstate New York to compete in the Karate and Kickboxing World Championships — and he delivered, taking home both a gold and a silver medal. It was an incredible accomplishment for a teenager once so ill that he made nearly three dozen visits to the emergency department before he was 6 years old.

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