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Olympic USA Hockey Star T.J. Oshie Discusses Daughter's Birth Defect and Successful Surgery

( [email protected] ) Apr 09, 2014 03:45 PM EDT

St. Louise Blues TJ Oshie
T.J. Oshie

Hockey player T.J. Oshie is perhaps best known for helping propel Team USA to victory over Russia in the Sochi Olympic Games. Yet the St. Louis Blues player's greatest pride isn't his Olympic win. Instead, it's his newborn daughter Lyla Grace, who has won his heart.   

"She's adorable," Oshie told TODAY. "You catch yourself just holding her for two hours and looking at her the whole time."

Little Lyla, who was born March 17, has already overcome multiple challenges in her short life. She was born with a birth defect called gastroschisis, which is best described as "a condition in which an infant is born with the intestines on the outside of the body."

Oshie told NBC, "When [Lyla] born, her bowel was outside of her stomach, which means her stomach closed without her bowel getting inside of her."

The baby underwent successful surgery to replace her bowels. However, Oshie and fiancé Lauren Cosgrove were unable to hold their daughter for several days until she had fully recovered from the surgery.  

"It was so difficult," said Oshie.

According to Life News, gastroschisis is a "fetal anomaly" that parents sometimes seek abortions for. Doctors often discover gastroschisis during routine ultrasounds, said Dr. Daniel DeUgarte, associate professor of pediatric surgery at Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"In the old days, this was often times fatal," DeUgarte said. "Nowadays, there is a 90 percent survival."

Today, doctors are usually able to simply place the bowel back inside the body and then close up the defect.

"The good news is that with timely surgery, the intestine can be protected and saved in most cases," said Dr. George Mazariegos, chief of pediatric transplantation at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Despite advancements in medical technology, the surgery isn't successful for all children. In these cases, the children lose too much intestine, prohibiting them from eating food and resulting in the placement of a tube feeding or IV.

Those best and worst scenarios have to be explained to parents before the surgery, DeUgarte said. "Most fall into the best case, but parents need to be prepared if they don't have a perfect outcome," he said.

Oshie and Cosgrove cannot imagine life without their daughter, who is now eating normally. The couple believes their experience has given them greater compassion for children born with so-called "defects."

"It was the most wonderful feeling to hold her for the first time," Cosgrove said. "I can't even really describe how it felt. It was great."