Stories about: John Meara

A fighting chance for Eva

encephalocele-microcephaly
Violet and Vincent with their new sister

Early in 2015, Jennifer and Vincent Ramirez had everything they wanted — two healthy children: Violet, 5, and Vincent, 3, and they had just bought a new home in Salt Lake City. The couple decided to try for a third child.

Jennifer learned she was pregnant in a few weeks.

“Everything was going according to plan,” recalls Vincent. In July of 2015, the entire family packed into an exam room for Jennifer’s five-month ultrasound.

“The doctor wasn’t talking much, and the ultrasound seemed to be taking longer than usual,” says Jennifer. After the ultrasound was done, the doctor asked the couple if they could put their children in another room while they discussed the results.

“There’s something wrong with your baby’s head,” the doctor reported. The week after the ultrasound Jennifer had a fetal MRI.

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Catching up with Dominic Gundrum

Dominic 2When Dominic Gundrum first came to Boston Children’s Hospital late in 2012, his future was very much unknown.

He was born with a large, triangle-shaped gap running from his upper lip through the middle of his nose and forehead, known to the medical community as a Tessier midline facial cleft. His cleft was so large that fluid and tissue from his brain, normally encased in the skull, had seeped outwards, forming a golf ball-sized bubble underneath the skin of his forehead. It’s a condition called an encephalocele, and Dominic’s was so severe doctors weren’t sure how much they would be able to help him.

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Our patients’ stories: Dominic’s craniofacial surgery

Dominic-1Dominic Gundrum’s smile is truly special. Or, more accurately, there’s something really special about his smiles. They light up a room, even though they’re the result of a rare and extremely difficult to correct birth defect. Still, despite how atypical they seem at first, Dominic’s giggling smiles are surprisingly disarming.

 

To have something look so different—but still spread such joy—is truly unique. And, in a way, that uniqueness defines Dominic perfectly.

An uncertain beginning

During a routine 20-week ultrasound in their home state of Wisconsin, Dominic’s parents, Mark and Mary, were excited to find out if they were having a boy or girl. But when doctors looked at Mary’s grainy ultrasound they discovered more than Dominic’s sex. Though it was hard to tell for sure, the ultrasound image showed that Dominic’s skull hadn’t fused together properly early in the pregnancy, leaving a large, triangle-shaped gap running from his upper lip through the middle of his nose and forehead—a condition known in the medical world as a Tessier midline facial cleft.

But the cleft wasn’t the only issue Dominic was facing: some fluid and tissue from his brain, normally encased in the skull, had seeped outwards through the cleft, forming a golf ball-sized bubble underneath the skin of his forehead. (A condition called an encephalocele.)  

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Children’s global health: a medical mission to Grozny

This September a team from Children’s Hospital Boston went on a medical and educational mission to the war-torn city of Grozny, Chechnya. As representatives of Children’s Global Surgery Program, Children’s Plastic-Surgeon-in-Chief John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA, pediatric anesthesiologist Craig McClain, MD, MPH, nurse anesthetist Nelson Aquino, CRNA, MS and staff nurse II Jay Hartford, RN, BSN, SNI spent a week treating Chechen children and training local doctors to improve their delivery of pediatric perioperative healthcare at the recently constructed Gronzny Children’s Hospital.

While in Chechnya the team was joined by Russian plastic surgeon Dr. Elena Karpova and hosted by Chechan surgeon Dr. Khassan Baiev, who also serves as director of the International Committee for the Children of Chechnya.

(Slide show images by David Coventry, www.davidcoventry.com)

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