Stories about: Dr. Reza Rahbar

Hear me roar: A mother hunts down answers for her son

If it’s true that raising boys is not for the fainthearted, then Nicole Laws is truly lionhearted. A nurturer and a protector, beautiful and strong, this mother of four boys will hunt down the best solution to a problem … no matter what stands in her way.

Mason was born on Jan. 28, 2011, in Syracuse, New York. A month premature, he struggled with eating and breathing, but Nicole wasn’t overly worried. “This was our fourth child. The first three had reflux, so I was thinking, ‘This will be a piece of cake!’” Mason was observed for a few days at the local hospital and sent home.

Unfortunately, Mason’s issues persisted. Nicole and her husband Cliff had to hold their son in just the right position and give him frequent breaks to feed him. Sleeping was a struggle, to say the least. “Mason couldn’t tolerate laying flat,” remembers Nicole. “He would sleep on top of me sitting in a chair — all night long.”

We wouldn’t be where we are now if I didn’t push hard for answers and say ‘no’ when I felt something wasn’t right. ~ Nicole, Mason’s mom

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Mason’s story: A newborn with a peach-sized tumor

momandmasonWhen Tara Johnson found out— after 10 years of trying to get pregnant—she was carrying boy-girl twins, she was thrilled. “It was so exciting, it felt like a double blessing,” she remembers.

The pregnancy progressed normally until her 21-week checkup when everything changed. Doctors found a large growth on the neck of her unborn son.

Tara’s care was transferred to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and doctors from Endocrinology and Otolaryngology at Boston Children’s Hospital formed a team to manage her son’s care.

When she was 31 weeks pregnant, Tara and husband Bruce were in Boston to meet with Boston Children’s Associate Otolaryngologist-in-Chief Dr. Reza Rahbar for the first time, when she unexpectedly went into labor. Doctors were able to stop the labor, and Tara was put on bed rest at Brigham and Women’s. “I was really at the right place at the right time,” she says.

The ensuing weeks were filled with a lot of waiting and anxiety, two MRIs, many ultrasounds and multiple meetings with Dr. Rahbar to plan for the twins’ birth and the inevitable surgery to remove her son’s ever-increasing growth. Dr. Rahbar was certain the tumor was a benign teratoma, but couldn’t determine exactly the severity until the baby was born. Bruce remembers, “I worried a lot about whether Mason would make it through all of his medical issues, and at the same time I also worried about the long-term complications if he did survive.”

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