Successful surgery for a baby born with a tumor on his face
Mary and Mark Gundrum of Wisconsin were thrilled when they went in for an ultrasound in the 20th week of Mary's pregnancy and found out that their eighth child was going to be a boy. But when the doctor's face suddenly changed, they knew that something was terribly wrong.
Up on the screen they could see a large lump near the fetus’s mouth. It turned out that their baby suffered from not one, but two rare conditions. The first was encephalocele (also known as cranium bifidum): that’s when the baby’s brain grows outside the skull. The second was a facial cleft. These can be fatal conditions and even when they're not, they can be severely disabling.
But Mary and Mark, already parents of seven, were determined to see this pregnancy through. They waited and the baby grew until at last Mary gave birth. When they looked at their newborn son they couldn't deny that this was going to be one of the biggest challenges of their lives:
But the couple had one advantage that past generations didn't: the internet. So, while Mary was still pregnant, they did some serious searching and it paid off: Mary found John Meara, a plastic surgeon in Boston who had already dealt with these conditions before. She got up her courage and contacted him directly, hardly expecting ever to get through to him.
But the very next day the phone rang. It was Dr. Meara agreeing to take care of their baby. The Gundrums were overjoyed at the their good fortune, but the situation remained extremely uncertain. And yet, as soon as their baby boy Dominic was born, they couldn’t help being hopeful as they set off for Boston.
Once they arrived, the doctor explained what he would have to do. The couple found him and the hospital staff wonderfully supportive. The time had finally come: Dominic was going to have a 10-hour surgery led by Dr. Meara and involving dozens of hospital personnel from every department.
In the end, it took “only” six hours. But they would need to wait four weeks before being certain whether Dominic would be all right.
The first thing they noticed was that the baby could move his eyes: this was a good sign! And then he started to play.
And then… he smiled! For the first time!
Now they really knew that the surgery had been a success. They would have to do annual check-ups but since then Dominic has been surrounded by his parents and his many loving siblings back in Wisconsin.
You can watch the whole story here:
What an incredible story of determination and perseverance. And what incredibly good luck the Gundrums had in finding a doctor with the skills and courge to perform such dangerous surgery successfully. At two years old, Dominic looks healthy and happy, has a lot of friends, and is growing up “normally.” It's an inspiring story about the will to live that helps us all appreciate our own lives that much more!