Stories about: craniofacial anomaly

Reading to teach and heal: Best books for 8-12 year olds

Best books for 8-12 year olds.

Books are great tools for teaching empathy to children. They can help kids understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes — someone with a physical or mental disability, chronic illness or learning difference. They can also help kids with medical issues see how other kids cope — which can be validating or even help spark new ideas. And books help younger generations recognize that no matter what obstacle they may face, they’re still just kids, and they’re not alone.

Today, many children’s book authors are weaving characters with medical conditions into their stories with appropriate sensitivity to both inform and create a sense of understanding among readers. Here are four must-reads for 8-12 year olds:

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Catching up with Violet: At home in Oregon

violet before afterEarly in 2015, Violet, an Oregon toddler with an impish grin and halo of dark curls, inched her way into hearts all over the world. Violet was born with a Tessier cleft — an extremely rare and serious craniofacial anomaly. It’s a highly complex condition requiring specialty care.

Her parents found what their daughter needed at Boston Children’s Hospital. They traveled from Oregon to Boston, where a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. John Meara, Plastic Surgeon-in-Chief, and Dr. Mark Proctor, vice-chair of neurosurgery, undertook a life-changing transformation.

The nine-hour surgery that changed Violet’s face and life took place just over one year ago.

Thriving caught up with her family to find out what Violet, now two-and-a-half, is up to today.

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Life with ‘the little warrior’ 19 months after encephalocele surgery

Owen Sheridan familyPhoto courtesy of Lorrin Sell

Nearly every morning in the quiet, early light, 19-month-old Owen Sheridan awakens not with a cry but with a steady, strong-willed yell, just to tell his parents he’s ready to begin the day.

“We will change his diaper and bring him into bed with us,” says Owen’s mom Jen Sheridan. “He will babble happily. And when he smiles, it is the sweetest thing.”

For the Sheridans, the smile is just one of the many miracles since Owen, the little warrior as they call him, returned home from Boston Children’s Hospital on Jan. 11, 2014.

Born with a rare growth called an encephalocele, Owen was given little chance of survival. During early development, fluid and tissue normally encased in the skull had seeped outwards forming a large mass on top of his head. The growth was so large—more than half his weight—the Sheridans weren’t able to hold him for the first four weeks of life.

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