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Medical Trauma Card Information

If you are accessing this page because you have been presented with a TOFS trauma card, the person you are interacting with is living with the effects of medical trauma, and the current situation has generated a trigger for them. 

The holder of this card had major life saving surgery requiring intensive care as a baby and may have had many other medical procedures and investigations since then. As a result, they now find some medical situations make them very anxious and they need more support and understanding than some people.

The card holder was was born with Oesophageal Atresia (OA) Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF).

A rare, complex, life threatening condition.

OA means their oesophagus did not connect to their stomach and TOF means their trachea and oesophagus were joined together.

OA/TOF may have resulted in lifelong physical and emotional difficulties for them.

As well as those shown on the card itself, listed below are some of the situations/procedures that may make them feel particularly anxious:

Situations/procedures that may make them feel particularly anxious may include:


Lots of professionals/students in the consulting room.

How they may react

They may feel unsafe and find it hard to concentrate on what is being said. They may find it hard to speak.

How you can help

Keep the number of people to a maximum of two professionals wherever possible.

Allow time for them to write down what you say and then respond.


They may be very afraid of needles.

How they may react

They may panic, become breathless and find it hard to communicate.

How you can help

Prepare them for the procedure in advance by letting them know it is coming.

Be calm and confident. This helps them to feel safer.

If they do panic, please let them take a moment to regain their composure before you try again.

They may need to get up and move around.

About OA/TOF

  • Oesophageal Atresia (OA) and Tracheo-oesophageal Fistula (TOF) are rare congenital conditions that frequently occur together.
  • With OA a section of the oesophagus has not formed properly, the normal route from the mouth to the stomach does not exist.
  • In TOF there is an abnormal connection between the trachea and part of the oesophagus.
  • This means that the infant is unable to swallow feeds and their saliva.
  • In order to survive, the baby needs corrective surgery as soon after birth as possible.
  • Many children need repeated operations and hospitalisations as they grow. This can continue into adulthood.
  • The frequent medical treatments and hospital stays can lead to emotional trauma. 

The content of this page was written by the Adult OA/TOF Working Group.

TOFS does not offer emergency care and is not engaged in the practice of medicine. This information is not intended or offered as medical advice. Any use of the information provided is subject to our full disclaimer at: