Stafford Heights Baby Defies Odds After Being Born With Stomach Outside His Body

Stafford Heights Miracle Baby Harrison McLaren
Photo Credit: Supplied

Harrison McLaren was born with his stomach and bowels protruding outside his body. Now eight months old, he is thriving and well. Find out how the McLaren family from Stafford Heights faced this formidable challenge, with the help of the medical team at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in South Brisbane.



Harrison was born with gastroschisis, a rare and challenging birth defect that left his abdominal wall compromised, resulting in his stomach and bowels protruding outside his body.

Mum Jessica McLaren shared that her pregnancy scan at 20 weeks was a turning point for her and her husband, Christopher.

Despite initial reassurances and already visualising a healthy future for their child, they received devastating news over the phone that their child had gastroschisis. With the news, the McLarens entered a world of uncertainty and concern.

The expectant couple was advised that surgery was the only viable option and that it needed to take place shortly after Harrison’s birth in November 2022.

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“After the phone call, I started researching the birth defect and this is when the panic and fear truly set in,” Jessica said.

“The images online of gastroschisis are very confronting. I immediately called my husband and we both took the next couple of days off work to process the news.

“All you want and wish for is a healthy baby and to be delivered such news was devastating.”

Stafford Heights Miracle Baby Harrison McLaren
Photo Credit: Supplied

Of the 10,000 babies born at Mater Mother’s Hospital every year, about 15 babies are admitted for management of gastroschisis. 

However, their journey took a positive turn as Harrison’s arrival was meticulously planned by Mater Mothers’ NICU team, helping to alleviate some of the anxiety of his parents surrounding his birth.

Stafford Heights Miracle Baby Harrison McLaren
Photo Credit: Supplied

His surgery was postponed until his organs could be maneuvered inside his body, a feat accomplished three days after his birth with remarkable success.

Mater Director of Neonatology, Dr. Pita Birch, credited Mater’s standardised gastroschisis feeding guidelines for aiding in the improved outcomes for babies with this condition. The guidelines facilitated the progression of milk feeds, minimizing infections and hastening patient discharge. The approach, including its application to Harrison, contributed to his relatively short hospital stay.

Through a multidisciplinary neonatal intensive care team, Harrison was provided with round-the-clock care during his nearly one-month hospitalisation, with seamless collaboration between Mater Mothers’ and Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Stafford Heights Miracle Baby Harrison McLaren
Photo Credit: Supplied

Today, baby Harrison, at eight months old, is healthy and thriving. Mrs McLaren credits every individual involved in his medical journey for her son’s remarkable recovery, describing him as a true miracle.

“Having to leave the hospital without Harrison was extremely taxing on my mental health –  walking out of those hospital doors without Harry in my arms was an emptiness I have never experienced,” she said.

“I get extremely emotional thinking about the care I received at the Mater especially the NICU team. The love and care they provide for not only your child but yourself and family is phenomenal,” she said.



“The medical specialists are simply world-class I couldn’t be more thankful for each person that played a role in Harrison’s recovery.

“He is most definitely our miracle. He made the most incredible recovery. To say that Harrison is strong and resilient would be an understatement.”

Published 22-Aug-2023