I enjoy surprises, but I also enjoy patterns. The pattern I was hoping to work within for the Night Owl in December includes holiday Owls on the weekends. For tonight’s, I was alternating between an interesting food story or a toy one… and both of those may make appearances next weekend, if other TNB writers don’t lay claim to those days. Something else caught my attention, though, and I can think of little more appropriate for every holiday of the season than a little child being given the gift of continued life.
A pediatric team at Montreal’s CHU Sainte-Justine hospital attempted a new surgery on November 5. It happened because a two-year-old girl had been admitted with a rare condition; her head was the size of a basketball.
The girl, whose name is as yet undisclosed (although images have been released), suffered from hydrocephalus. Her skull had swollen under the pressure from the internal fluid – roughly three quarts – and her brain matter had compressed, resulting in severe developmental disabilities.
Under normal circumstances a shunt is placed and fluid is drained off; in this case, the existing damage was so severe an alternative was sought. With the aid of a 3-D printed model and 210 biodegrading screws the pediatric team worked on the child for twelve hours.
The procedure? Removing and reconstructing her skull.
The doctors removed the skull, piece by piece, draining off the excess fluid. Then they began the procedure of reassembling it. The end goal was not a normal-sized head, but one with a skull diminished to less than half of its existing size, an abnormally but not glaringly large head.
The procedure was complex, it was interesting, and it’s worth seeing a report on. Here’s a link to one from the National Post:
That report is not the focus of this article, however.
This is the focus: one month after the groundbreaking surgery the child has survived, her health is steadily improving, and her brain mass has nearly doubled in volume. This child whose life was at severe risk and who was to be impacted by deep mental impairment now stands a fair chance of being a more-or-less normal child.
And that is the greatest gift a family could imagine.
Question of the night: What is a gift you are thankful for?