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Our Vision

Our vision is of a world in which every CDH family has the support they need to successfully weather the storms CDH can bring to their lives.

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CDH Stars and Angels is a nonprofit patient advocacy organization based in Houston, Texas that offers a range of support services nationwide to families of children born with the severe birth defect Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). CDH is a condition that develops in utero when the muscle dividing the chest from the abdomen, the diaphragm, fails to close. The results of this failure, while sometimes treatable, can be fatal.


We provide small grants to the families experiencing CDH to pay for medical treatments and related travel, and, when needed, funeral expenses. We also provide care packages to CDH-affected families, raise awareness of this defect, and advocate for patient-centered research in partnership with organizations whose goals align with ours.


Our initiative was founded by Brenda Mertes, a mother whose son was born in 2015 with CDH. At just four days old, he had to undergo major surgery to keep him alive. Today, he has a synthetic patch over his diaphragm that helps him survive. Brenda and her family understand the emotional and financial tolls this birth defect can take on the lives of each family member. She founded CDH stars to help families experiencing a diagnosis of CDH, whether their infant survives childbirth or not.


We aim to ease the burdens of financial stress and feelings of confusion, isolation, and grief by offering both financial and emotional support to the families we serve. Our range of resources for families affected by this birth defect is tailored to the unique needs of each CDH family and where they are at on their personal journeys. Our ultimate goal is to make an uncomfortable journey as comfortable as possible while celebrating our little stars and angels.


Our Story


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