“Scars show us where we have been, they do not dictate where we are going.” A quote that fits Courtney Gabbett well, as for much of her early childhood Courtney spent an inordinate amount of time answering prying questions from classmates: most frequently, what are those scars on your neck and stomach? Where she was always going (endless medical appointments)? What’s that medical bracelet on your wrist (it explains what to do in case of emergency)? Why do you always sound hoarse (I have a condition called laryngeal dysfunction)?
Born at a Pennsylvania hospital without the capacity to treat her CDH diagnosis, Courtney was immediately transported to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was stabilized and underwent repair surgery, and was then put on ECMO for 10 days. Certainly not the birth plan her parents envisioned, but in their eyes a true miracle that was answered in the form of Dr. Stavis who was not supposed to be on call the night she arrived - it’s a namesake she literally keeps with her to this day (it’s her middle name)!
“Doctors told my parents to get me into art or music because sports would be too hard for me due to my limitations.”
Courtney LOVES sports. She always has, and she was determined to never let her CDH diagnosis get in the way of her passions in life - in fact, it only made her more driven. After being told to consider art or music, Courtney has gone on to become a decorated three-sport athlete - All Division in both Soccer and Basketball - and she will continue the pursuit of her passion for soccer this Fall at Penn State Berks.
Knowing firsthand the many favors bestowed upon them while Courtney was hospitalized, her parents have instilled a strong appreciation in Courtney for giving back to the community that has been so supportive of her. Upon completion of her studies, she plans to use her personal experience with CDH to connect with families living with their own diagnosis and help counsel them on how to positively cope and find hope during difficult times.