Baby Born With Exposed Brain Defies the Odds and Thrives

baby feetHappy news for one Milwaukee family: A baby born with part of his brain outside his skull is thriving -- and going home. Mary Gundrum was pregnant with her son when she found out he suffered from two terrifying conditions. He had what's called a Tessier midline facial cleft, which means his skull hadn't fused together and was split down his face, through even his nose. And he had an encephalocele, a sack of brain tissue and fluid that had formed in the space of the cleft. Some of his brain was even sagging down into his mouth. He was expected to live only a couple of hours after he was born.

But baby Dominic is 7 months old now, and thanks to six hours of surgery, his sweet little face looks much like any other baby's, just with a fading scar running down his forehead. He is developing normally. What an incredible relief to his family!


What's a parent supposed to do when you find out your unborn child has an incredibly dire diagnosis? How much hope do you dare have? According to the report, Mary was looking for baby coffins at one point. She was preparing herself for the worst.

You know the saying, "expect the worst but hope for the best"? It's a lot harder than it sounds. I think it's a challenge to hold onto both feelings at the same time. You wouldn't want to build up false hope. But at the same time, any bit of positive energy you can transfer to your unborn child must help, right?

In the end, science and careful planning won the day. This was incredibly tricky surgery, and so the surgeons actually rehearsed the 37-step procedure on a model before performing it on Dominic. It took a lot of trust from Mary. "I have to say, handing my son off to them [the surgeons] was the most difficult thing I think I've ever done in my entire life." (See an X-ray of his skull.)

And it's not just because her son's life was in their hands. Surprisingly, she said the whole family had fallen in love with the deformed face Dominic was born with -- and they knew he'd look different after surgery. "As much as his face was different, we fell in love with that face. I don't know that anyone can really understand that." Now she says they're falling in love with the "new" Dominic.

Do you understand how Mary and her family would fall in love with Dominic's pre-surgery face?


Image via sabianmaggy/Flickr

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