COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A young girl with a rare birth defect is turning 3 years old, but a birthday party isn't in the cards this year.
Ava Graziano was born with a deadly and rare birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH.
One in every 2,500 babies is diagnosed with CDH, and only 50 percent survive.
Ava was given even worse odds: a 13 percent chance to live.
"It's been really hard because I want her to have a normal life, but it's hard when people treat her differently," said Ava's mother, Dawn Graziano.
Graziano tried to throw birthday party for Ava last year, but no one showed up.
"I think a lot of it stems from people fearing what they don't understand. People have removed their children from being near her, or playing with her, because they're afraid of her feeding tube. They don't understand. She's just a little girl, she can play like anybody else," Graziano said.
Instead of throwing a party Graziano is asking for birthday letters this year. Ava's birthday is on Oct. 8.
Here's the address where Ava's letters will be collected:
6414 Casual Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80923.
You can also follow Ava's story on Facebook, search for Ava's Journey CDH Awareness & Personal Story.
Graziano tells KRDO that CDH is a condition in which a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to move into the chest, which prevents the lungs from developing normally This results in pulmonary hypoplasia. CDH can be life-threatening unless treated.
To learn more about CDH you can visit the two following organizations:
Colorado Chapter of Breath of Hope
CHERUBS - Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Research, Awareness and support.