Minnesota parents are overjoyed to finally be hearing their three-year-old daughter’s voice for the first time.
Zoey Ellis, of Coon Rapids, was born in March 2015 with an extremely rare disorder that blocked off her windpipe and left her unable to speak.
For the past three years, Zoey used sign language, squeaks and clicking her tongue to communicate with her parents, Amberlee and Jeremy.
This past summer, doctors in Ohio approved Zoey for a surgery that would widen her windpipe using cartilage from her rib cage so she could speak.
Now, not only is Zoey surviving and thriving, she’s speaking. In an interview with DailyMail.com, her mother described the heartbreak of thinking her daughter would never say a word and the overwhelming joy of hearing ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ for the first time.
‘I was 20 weeks pregnant and we went in to find out she was a girl,’ Amberlee told DailyMail.com
‘They told me over the phone they thought she had a disorder, but they were going to have to send me to a specialist.’
Zoey was diagnosed with CHAOS, or Congenital High Airway Obstruction Syndrome, a rare disorder in which a fetus’s windpipe and voice box are blocked.
Scientists are unsure of what causes it, but believe it may be from the airway being narrowed or part of the trachea is missing, according to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.