Stories about: Belinda Dickie

Carrying Savanna through her journey with cloacal malformation

Savanna visits the Colorectal and Pelvic Malformation Center at Boston Children's Hospital.

When two-year-old Savanna Bluford enters Boston Children’s Colorectal and Pelvic Malformation Center, she quickly gravitates toward the waiting room’s interactive light board. Sporting pigtails, sparkly sneakers and an angelic smile, the playful toddler’s attention quickly turns to her doctor — the Center’s Co-Director Dr. Belinda Dickie. The two light up with smiles and exchange hugs as if old friends — and that, they are.

Savanna was born in South Carolina with a rare and complex birth defect affecting the gastrointestinal, urological and reproductive systems.

The condition, called covered cloacal malformation, occurs when the bladder, colon and vaginal channels are connected. This connection causes a mixing of stool and urine, which exit the body from the same location. The malformation also impacts the spinal cord.

In order to correct Savanna’s condition — which affects one in 250,000 children — she will undergo a multi-staged, multi-year reconstruction process to repair all three systems.

When it came time to find a pediatric surgeon that specializes in such complexities, Savanna’s parents searched the nation for an expert — and they found Dr. Dickie.

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